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Parallel runway plan vanishes into thin air

P. Oppili

It would have dislocated less than 1,000 houses

— Photo: A.Muralitharan

Looking for directions: The growth in air traffic has necessitated improvements at Chennai airport.

CHENNAI: A few years ago, a group of engineers came up with a plan for a parallel runway at the Chennai airport to cope with the increasing air traffic, facilitating free landing and take-off. Furthermore, it was also meant to be used for even landing wide-bodied aircraft.

According to the proposal, the project would not dislocate many families: less than 1,000 houses needed to be removed.

The funds meant for extending the secondary runway were to be tapped for creating the parallel runway which, the engineers argued, would help Chennai handle the increasing traffic over the next 20 years.

At a time when the world-wide trend was to minimise cross runway operations, it was not correct to take up cross runway operations at the Chennai airport, the proposal said.

A former AAI officer said cross runway could not be used as an alternative throughout the year; such operations depended mainly on the wind pattern. It could be put to use only for a few months in a year, he said.

Moreover, with the single runway operations, the number of arrivals and departures could not exceed 20 aircraft. So the handling capacity of the runway could not be increased, he said. Strengthening and extension of the secondary runway would not help cope with the traffic throughout the year. Commercially, it would restrict the load-carrying capacity of airlines, too. Compared with the cost incurred for strengthening and extending the cross runway, a parallel runway could be created which, the official said, would also be more cost-effective.

But little is known about the proposal beyond the plan.

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