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August 26, 2010

Runway lights go dark, pilots get a shocktimes news network

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 1:14 pm
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KOLKATA: Pilots of two SpiceJet flights that were approaching Kolkata airport to land had a scare on Monday night when the runway lights shut down at 9.30 pm and the tarmac remained dark for eight minutes as the diesel generator back-up failed to start.

The aircraft (from Jaipur and Mumbai) were asked to hover over the city till the snag could be fixed. Two planes lined up for take-off a SpiceJet flight to Ahmedabad and an IndiGo flight to Delhi were held on the tarmac during the period.

The power problem affected other sections of the airport for nearly two hours with Singapore Airlines staff having to use their personal laptops to check in passengers. Airport officials are still puzzled over what happened as the snag disappeared just as mysteriously as it cropped up.

“Two flights were put on hold in the air and two others were detained on the ground due to problem with the runway lights on Monday night. The engineering wing is investigating why the snag happened,” airport director R Srinivasan said.

According to sources, the captain of the SpiceJet flight from Jaipur saw the runway disappear around 9.30pm and reported the matter to the air traffic control tower at Kolkata airport, which immediately alerted department heads.

On inspection, it was found that a sharp shower earlier in the evening had led to a malfunction in the sub-station which is fed by CESC. Though there was no disruption in supply, a snag in the substation led to the shutdown. The back-up supplied by a diesel generator that starts automatically in case of a power failure, refused to start on Monday night. It remained that way for eight minutes before power to the runway lights were restored. The rest of the airport remained dark and restoration happened in phases.

“It was a tough situation as runway lights flickered. Thankfully, it was beyond the busy hours and there were only two incoming aircraft. Even when the lights were restored, the pilots were not confident of a touchdown for a while fearing a blackout at the crucial moment,” an ATC official said.

Engineers are yet to detect what led to the problem in the generator. “We check the genset daily and it functioned perfectly on Monday and Tuesday. What happened on Monday evening is a mystery. We have contacted the manufacturer so that the problem does not recur,” Srinivasan added.



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