Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Sunday, May 23, 2010
ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version
Google



National
News: ePaper | Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous |
Advts:
Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs |

National Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Tabletop runway creates an optical illusion, says pilot

V. Sridhar

“A pilot needs to make quick mental adjustments”


‘The pilot has to rely more on his interface with the machine'

‘A short field impairs one's ability to handle the aircraft'


Bangalore: The Mangalore airport has a tabletop runway which, according to an Air India pilot, “creates an optical illusion that requires a very precise approach.”

“As the pilot makes the approach, the visual reference changes, which requires the pilot to guard against taking the aircraft either too high or low on the approach,” said the pilot on the condition of anonymity. A pilot needs to “make quick mental adjustments as he makes an approach that is based on his visual instincts.” “The pilot has to resist natural instincts, recognising that he/she is up against an optical illusion.”

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has prescribed “additional training requirements for tabletop runways, such as the one at the Bajpe Airport in Mangalore.” The runway at Mangalore — and “to some extent Kozhikode” — is situated on what looks “like a plateau.”

Asked if automated systems, such as fly-by-wire systems do not ensure precise landings and take-offs, the pilot said: “During the last stage of landing in airports such as the one in Mangalore, the pilot has to rely more on his interface with the machine, rather than a totally automated machine.”

Asked if the length of the runway could have been a significant risk factor, the pilot said, “A field, if short, does play a role in such an airport because it impairs one's ability to handle the aircraft.” Moreover, aircraft landing in weather conditions, such as the one prevailing on Saturday morning, might require a longer landing distance.

“If there was an increase in the tailwind during landing, the pilot would have required a longer distance to land the craft. The weather does play an important role in airports on the West coast.” Adverse weather could have brought the “length of the runway” into play as a critical parameter during landing, the pilot remarked.

A retired pilot, who spent more than 30 years with Air India and has flown several times to Wellington International Airport, New Zealand, considered by pilots to have a relatively short runway, told The Hindu that pilots landing at such airports “have a very narrow margin of error.”

The senior pilot said that if, as reported, the aircraft landed near the runway's half-way mark, the pilot would have been left with very little margin of error. “Normally, the entire landing procedure has to be completed within two-thirds of the length of the runway, so that he has room for manoeuvre.”

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



National

News: ePaper | Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous |
Advts:
Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update



The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | The Hindu ePaper | Business Line | Business Line ePaper | Sportstar | Frontline | Publications | eBooks | Images | Ergo | Home |

Copyright 2010, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu