Fog before time: Cat-III out of bag

IGI Airport takes precautions as Met office predicts dense fog cover from early Dec, which will reduce visibility and disrupt flights

The fog protocol is set to be in place before "normal" time at Indira Gandhi International Airport with the weather office predicting foggy conditions in the coming days.

The Met office said Cat-III conditions (dense fog) will begin early December, reducing visibility and tossing flight schedules to the wind. To prevent heavy rescheduling of flights, the airport authorities are preparing to enforce Cat-III from December 10, a week before schedule. "

"This year, dense fog will hit the Capital on December 10 and will last till February 10. Last year, the fog period began on December 18 and lasted till February 5," R K Jenamani, director-in-charge of the airport's Met office, said.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been informed about the fog forecast. A meeting was held on Wednesday to review the situation at all airports in north India.

The aviation regulator has briefed the Airports Authority of India, domestic and foreign carriers, airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Some guidelines have been chalked out to ensure smooth landing and take-off in foggy conditions.

Airlines have been directed to deploy pilots trained to handle Cat-III conditions for operating flights to and from Delhi. Operations of ATR turboprops, regional jets and Bombardier Q400s, which are not CAT-III compliant, will have to be rescheduled.

Officials said the Met office has been in touch with three mobile phone operators for sending SMS alerts to passengers — giving information on runway visual range, visibility and weather forecast.

The Met office is equipped with digital equipment and standardised sensors to provide live data of weather conditions at the airport. The Railways and the Power Grid also depend on the Met data provided by these hi-tech gadgets.

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