Delhi runway security: Shoulder-fired missiles top panelís list of concerns

AerocityAerocity hotels are considered too close to the runway

A committee comprising representatives of various security agencies at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has recommended that an audit plan should be developed to determine threats from man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) ó shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles ó to prevent attacks on the runway.

The suggestions were part of a 15-point recommendations to the to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) to augment security at the airport.

MANPADS are a threat to low-flying aircraft, especially helicopters. The IGIA is among 22 airports that are in the category of 'hyper-sensitive' airports.

The committee comprising representatives of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Delhi Police, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) recently visited the airport in San Diego and the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam to study the security apparatus at these airports.

They also undertook a comparison of commercial buildings in the vicinity of runways at these airports with the Aerocity at the IGIA.

The committee stated that due to its closeness to the runway, the Aerocity, which is located on airport land, can also be vulnerable to threats.

"Therefore, a comprehensive area security plan for Aerocity should be prepared," the committee has suggested.

The committee also recommended that a detailed audit plan regarding threat from MANPADS may be conducted by intelligence agencies, local police and BCAS.

Sources said the committee suggested that all areas offering a direct line of sight to the runway and the taxiway to be examined for potential to be MANPAD launch sites.

"Areas in the airport periphery facing the runway and the taxiway are threats to aircraft. Not just missiles, other weapons too can be used to blow up an aircraft. While the hotels in the Aerocity have submitted their security plans to the BCAS, there is always the possibility that anti-social elements can easily assemble the weapons inside the hotels and target aircraft. The hotel rooms at the Aerocity, facing the runway, will not only have to have bulletproof glasses, but will also have to be fitted with an alarm system," an airport official said.

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