More high-rise buildings may fall under the ‘obstacles’ category due to the blunder in the OLS survey of Surat airport.

Surat: Does the Airport Authority of India (AAI) preparing for yet another blunder undermining the obstructions having potential for the air safety hazards under the Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) survey? It seems so if one has to go by the latest OLS survey of the Surat airport carried out in 2019.

History is set to be repeated as the AAI carried out OLS of the existing *runway 04/22* funnel of 2,905 meters in 2019. According to the No-Objection Certificate Application System (NOCAS), the NOCs for height permission are given considering the 3,810 meters length for *both runways ie 04/22 and 04R/22L.*
Now, if during the OLS survey in 2019, only the existing runway *04/22* of 2,905 meters is considered, then in the next OLS survey in 2022—as per the rule, OLS is carried out every three years—it will lead to further controversy with more high-rise buildings likely to fall under the obstruction and air safety hazard because of inclusion of existing 04/22 and 04R/22L.

Information gathered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act stated that the OLS survey was conducted by the AAI, covering the existing runway 04/22 of 2,905 meters of runway length funnel.

Termed as the serious blunder of the AAI, the notified master plan of AAI-2035, the existing 04/22 as well as the proposed parallel runway 04R/22L are earmarked as 3,810 meters.  The new NOCAS map was enforced in 2016, considering the 3,810-meter length of the existing and the proposed parallel runway at Surat airport.

Even the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has declared the length of the existing and proposed parallel runway to 3,810 meters in the GSR-700 dated December 18, 2020.

Documents gathered under the RTI revealed many reminders were sent to carry out the OLS in 2012. However, the OLS survey was carried out in 2016 due to the casual approach of the AAI officials.

Moreover, many letters were exchanged between various departments and offices of the AAI to ensure the removal of height obstacles before the existing runway expansion of 655 meters. However, a few officials indulged in the ugly game to save the structure that violated NOCs and that about 615 meters of the runway were displaced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)  in its audit report of Surat Airport stated the AAI unnecessarily spent Rs 64 crores for the extension of the runway at the Dumas side by 655 meters when 615 meters of the runway at Vesu side was displaced to maintain the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for flight safety in the approach area due to the building height obstacles.

An airport activity asking anonymity said, “Since 2007, AAI officials are doing blunders in the name of obstruction survey. When they know the NOCs under the NOCAS consider 3,810-meter runway length, the OLS was carried out for a 2,905-meter runway. It is urgently required that the AAI must carry out a fresh OLS survey keeping in mind the 3,810-meter runway length of 04/22 and 04R/22L in 2022”

He added, “If the revised runway length of 3,810 meters is not followed in the OLS survey, more high-rise buildings will fall prey to the obstructions and air safety hazard category”