Construction activity at Chennai airport creates dust pollution, lowers visibility

Construction activity at Chennai airport creates dust pollution, lowers visibility

Construction activity at Chennai airport creates dust pollution, lowers visibility


Chennai: There is a flurry of activity in Chennai airport’s backyard across the Adyar river where work is on to extend the secondary runway.

A pall of dust hangs in the air as hundreds of trucks dump soil and earth movers level the barren tract of land. All this is preliminary work in the laying of taxiways and the construction of an apron and other facilities.

The pall of dust is creating problems, not only for aircraft operations but also for residents in neighbouring Manapakkam, Tarapakkam and Porur who are trying to battle pollution. Although the impact of dust on aircraft and on the airport itself has not been studied yet, experts say that too much of dust near the runway is not a good thing because it affects visibility. Already, a combination of dust and high humidity has been creating early morning fog, bringing down visibility levels considerably.

“Instances of low visibility at the airport have been increasing over the years, from less than 5 days in a year the 1970s to more than 20 days now. The dust and pollution caused by the emergence of residential neighbourhoods is one of the reasons. Our staff assessing visibility has reported the sudden formation of fog in the hours before dawn,” says an official of the airport meteorological department.

In the past few weeks, visibility has dipped dramatically from 4,000 metres, reducing to 40 metres on March 6. Chennai airport does not have a Runway Visual Range (RVR) instrument, which makes matters worse.Says retired pilot Captain A Ranganathan: “.Dust settling on aircraft causes extra drag and leads to high fuel use.” He adds that if the electronics bay is kept open for a long time during or after maintenance, it will cause electronics failure. “The Amsterdam crash happened after the radio altimeter failed, probably because of dust infiltration. … Runways often have rubber and oil deposits. So, if dust settles on the runway, even a slight drizzle makes it slippery. Unless the airport removes rubber deposit frequently, safety will be compromised.”

 

An Airports Authority of India official says that dust-control measures such as sprinkling of water is on. “We are bringing partially wet soil for laying the secondary runway so that not much of dust is kicked off,” he said.

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~ by anand213 on April 8, 2009.

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