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More trained pilots make flying during fog easy

Ashwini Phadnis
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Flyers have had a better time this winter as compared to earlier years. An increase of almost 12 per cent in the number of pilots trained to operate domestic flights in foggy conditions and better communication systems at airports around the country have meant less inconvenience for flyers.

Till December 31, the domestic airline industry had over 2,110 pilots capable of operating aircraft in Cat III conditions or in dense fog conditions compared to about 1,900 such pilots at the end of December 2011. CAT III conditions are said to prevail at an airport when visibility is under 500 m and not less than 50 m.

Incidentally, in 2008, there were just 781 pilots trained in CAT III landing procedures.

As in the past, the maximum number of CAT III trained pilots are with Air India (668) followed by Jet Airways (495) and then IndiGo which has 444 such pilots taking up the third spot.

But in the aviation industry it is not only training of pilots but hardware on the ground such as the equipment to guide an aircraft and make it land in low or zero visibility conditions which ensures that passenger inconvenience is minimised during the foggy period.

Airports around the country have also started holding back aircraft from departing if weather at the arriving airport is inclement and there are chances that the flight may not be able to land.

“Apart from the increase in the number of CAT IIII trained pilots, airlines were asked not to schedule flights from airports that are generally affected by inclement weather during certain hours of the day to cut down on passenger inconvenience,” the Director General of Civil Aviation, Arun Mishra told the Hindu Business Line.

But despite these endeavours, there have still been reports of delays and cancellations at Delhi airport.

(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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