The Supreme Court on Tuesday 16 Feb 21 sought Centre’s response to a petition
seeking installation of an advanced technological system at vulnerable airports
to prevent aircrafts from overshooting runways. The Kozhikode and Mangalore
table top airports have witnessed aircrashes during the last two years resulting
in killing of several passengers
To see people
trapped in the aircraft is a terrible sight to watch SC Bench observed
A crash is something horrible. To see people trapped in the aircraft is a
terrible sight to watch,” The SC bench observed while asking the Centre not to
view this petition as ‘adversarial’ but to respond positively to the concern
raised in it
The petition cited the example of the United States where over a dozen
aircraft accidents could be prevented due to the technology, as per the court
“This technology (EMAS) has been installed in approximately more than 125
airports across the world, with more than 100 in the United States itself. The
installation of Engineered Material Arresting System or EMAS would not only
have saved hundreds of lives but would have also saved crores of rupees in
aircraft equipment. There are at least 15 incidents in the United States, where
the EMAS has come into play and prevented accidents,” the petition said.
Petitioner asked why
centre could not install a technology similar to the Engineered Material
Arresting System (EMAS) used in 125 airports across the world
Last year, an airplane fell into a valley from a table-top runway at the
Calicut airport, causing several deaths and injuries. A similar and more deadly
crash took place at the Mangalore airport, another table-top runway, in 2010.
Citing these two accidents, public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a retired
mechanical engineer Rajen Mehta, questioned why the Centre could not install a
technology similar to the Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) used in
125 airports across the world.
EMAS stops the
aircraft that overruns the runway
The EMAS works as an “arrestor bed” which uses crushable material placed at
the end of a runway to stop an aircraft that overruns the runway. This
crushable material generally consists of concrete blocks and can reduce the
1000 feet runway end safety area (RESA) requirement to 600 feet or less. The
wheels of the plane dig into the concrete resulting in a controlled deceleration
that brings the airplane to a smooth halt within a predetermined distance.
“This minimizes or virtually eliminates the potential for aircraft nose gear
collapse and injury to passengers and crew,” the petition stated.
recommendation of the inquiry committee govt took no action to install EMAS on
the runway overshoot areas
The petition claims the Calicut EMAS project was shelved in 2008 citing
economic crisis. Two years later, after the Mangalore crash, the inquiry
committee probing the crash recommended installation of the EMAS on the runway
overshoot areas. Yet, no action has been taken on the recommendation till date,
bench, comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and justices AS Bopanna
and V Ramasubramanian posted the petition after two weeks.