CAAN unable to handle the rising problems in the runway area

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TIA Solo Runway

CAAN unable to handle the rising problems in the runway area

Kathmandu – 30 October 2016

Owing to the growing trend of flight accidents and unreliable flight conditions, it is clear that it has become quite unsafe to travel in the Nepalese sky as the number of death toll has reached at its peak considering this single year only.

The recent accidents and growing runway problems that have questioned the Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN) on its dignity and worthiness to fully handle all the investigations on accidents and air safety managements that is required timely and on schedule with accurate reports and conclusion that could be further referred so as to cope with similar problems in the future but CAAN has been unable to point out the specific reasons for the accidents along with being incapacitate to take the corrective actions.

With the advent of improvisation in the runway which is quite sloth and harassing, not much of the bigger plans to either widen the airfield or improving maintenance and management body shows the clear case of lack of ability to handle all these bigger problems and CAAN must comprehend that it needs to hire more professionals or create a separate entity to handle air accident investigations and flight safety management.

On top of that, the biggest problem has always been the runway. Particularly, these days, the periphery around the runway has also been insecure. The fences that locks the airport from the outside world had been pulled apart which showed how unconcerned the patrolling team of the TIA had been but now it has been fixed due to constant visitation of animals in the runway, taxiways, apron and building areas as that caused huge problem in the flight operations and duties.

 Hole in the fence fencing line of TIA/ Photo Date: Oct 4 2016
Hole in the fence fencing line of TIA/ Photo Date: Oct 4, 2016
TIA ill-maintained fencing line/ Photo Date: 29 October 2016
TIA ill-maintained fencing line/ Photo Date: 29 October 2016

In fact, the presence of monkeys running haphazardly in the runway area has been seen previously when 15 monkeys were grouping around the runway and domestic terminal building areas last year which invited security threats and hindered the operations of the flights. On addition, the TIA officials and security personnel were unable to chase the monkey away and the airport had to be closed.


 Monkeys running haphazardly in the runway
Monkeys running haphazardly in the runway/ Photo Credit:
Monkeys inside TIA, Parking zone/ Photo Credit: Udaan Magazine
Monkeys inside TIA, Parking zone/ Photo Credit: Udaan Magazine

While analyzing the events, it is quite mocking how an airport management could show such carelessness when it is clear that even for a single diversion of any scheduled flight, huge losses are incurred by the airlines and along with that the airport itself loses economically and incorporates bad reputation. While corruption and carelessness is uncontrollable in CAAN, the day to day operations will certainly be hampered due to such carelessness and it is ongoing.

The airport has seen many other animals and birds in its vicinity that created such losses due to their presence in the takeoff and landing area. The badly timed connection between birds and TIA is rather multifaceted. Birds have always been a hazard to aircraft right since its advent in 1903 more than a century ago. Altogether 871 species have been found in Nepal out of a total of 10,000 varieties of birds in the world making Nepal a rich country for birds. The Kathmandu Valley alone has the advantage of recording more than 500 varieties. Topography, climate, greenery, wetlands and agro-lands in the valley are unbiasedly perfect for birds luring tourists into visiting Kathmandu to observe the birds in the valley.

The migratory birds have been especially been troublesome while flying creating bird strikes and recently a mammal (a bat) has been seen dead in the runway vicinity which could have arrived in the night time. The technicians who work at night time to maintain the runway and taxiway were unable to detect the dead mammal which has clearly shown their carelessness and how undutiful they are. The event invited the closure of the airport and diversion of scheduled flights along with losses financially and obstruction of the routine of the travelers.

Likewise, the worn out runway, the absence of a parallel runway and no appropriate area around the TIA for construction of another runway had already given call for another international airport with full-fledged facility which is being built in Bhairahawa is yet to complete and is estimated to be completed in 2018. But, an airport in the center hub of the country will always have its importance, so the runway there should be equally taken care of.

Many more incidents can still happen and the potential will always exist until taken care of. After the earthquake last April, the runway which suffered the tremor of maximum 7.6 rector scale and many more aftershocks has already turned it into dire condition loosening the roots on which the runway exists which can handle up to 8.4 rector scale. The aftermath after the earthquake is still not found and if it has been done, no such actions to mitigate the problems created because of the tremor have been done.

Along with the above reason behind this lackluster conduction of CAAN, it becomes necessary to take a leap towards some critical actions that could improve the present condition in the airport. And the first could be management of runway which is the biggest problem. The ground maintenance and proper care would be the second one along with hiring some ornithologists for problems regarding wildlife running haphazardly into the airports vicinity. While these problems relate to the incidents and accidents happening recently in the airport, CAAN itself doesn’t seem competent to handle all these problems with their solution, a different body which investigates and analyses the risks and concerns for the accidents occurring and finds out the reasons along with implementing safety into flights and airports could be much more effective to make Nepalese aviation efficient.

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