Saturday, September 05, 2015

100 men fixed ripped-off Chennai runway in 30 minutes

CHENNAI: Concrete, gravel and tar flying off a newly carpeted runway at Chennai airport during a flight take-off on Thursday evening may speak of poor quality work, but the airport authorities took up the repair work on a war footing. The patch-up was done in 30 minutes, and in less than three hours, the runway was operational.

Airport director Deepak Shastri said some 100 workers were pressed into service soon after the incident. "Workers took 15 minutes to relay the damaged portion using hot mix, 15 minutes to roll and firm it up, and two hours for cooling."

Airports Authority of India (AAI) has repaired the damaged portion of the main runway which peeled off causing flight operations to be suspended for close to an hour. Now, the airport manager says the repaired portion has been tested and is working well. A team of senior officials of AAI will visit Chennai to inspect the re-carpeting work. Shastri said it was an accident and the authorities have initiated a departmental inquiry.

A portion of the freshly re-laid runway came off when a Saudia Airlines aircraft revved its engine at full throttle and took off on Thursday evening. More than seven aircraft had to be diverted to Bengaluru and Hyderabad because landing was not allowed from the Pallavaram-end of the runway. The secondary runway was not usable because of lack of approach lights and instrument landing system.

The diversions, meanwhile, put some aircraft in distress. "An aircraft had to declare a May Day while approaching Bengaluru because it was running out of fuel. The flight was accorded priority for landing. Two other aircraft faced near emergency because of the uncertainty," said an airlines official.

Shastri said that recarpetting work will go on as per schedule. "But we have decided to monitor re-laid portions when runway is opened for flights. We are also planning to test samples of the debris to ascertain the quality of work and material used."

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