How one of India's best runways is now a nightmare for pilots
New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport has a new runway 29/11, commissioned in August 2008.
Runway 29 is the end cleared for Category III Landing in foggy conditions, making it one of most modern in Asia.
But while the runway is technically 14,000 feet long, only 8,500 feet is available for aircraft landing from the 29 end, probably owing to a massive 54 feet (four storey) Shiva statue which sits on the flight path.
This means all flights land almost 2 km after the runway actually starts, forcing the pilots to use full brakes and reverse thrust to slow down in time for the turn off.
Not only is this dangerous in foggy and wet conditions, it becomes almost impossible for huge aircraft like the A-380, for which the runway had been built in the first place.
As the recent crash at Mangalore has shown, it is critical for aircraft to have as much runway as possible for landing.
However, it seems the government is unable to do anything about the statue owing to religious sentiments involved.
And guess what? There is an even larger, taller statue, of the Buddha, coming up in the same area before the Commonwealth Games.
So perhaps we have to wait till some pilot - let us not forget that they are human too--makes a small error in bad weather conditions, and takes his passengers and crew to the other side.
Is that what it's going to take to get the Airports authority to have the full length made available for landing?
Image: A file photo of the Shiva statue which sits on the end of Delhi Airport's longest runway, reducing the effective length of the runway by half.