Proactive approach by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, DGCA and AAI has led to a significant decline in flight cancellations and flight diversions during the fog period despite an increase of 22% in the number of aircraft movements in the past two years.
In 2021-22, 124 flights were cancelled out of 136374 aircraft movements, which amounted to 0.09% cancellations. Also, 58 flight diversions were reported from the 8 main fog-prone airports.
The figure declined to 86 cancellations for 166927 total aircraft movements in 2022-23, which amounted to 0.05% cancellations. During the period, 14 flight diversions were reported.
The Minister said that Fog is a weather phenomenon generally confined to a few thousand feet above ground level contributing to poor visibility below 1000 meters, mostly but not limited to northern parts of India in the winter season and it affects flight operations.
During foggy weather, visibility deteriorates due to the presence of water droplets and dust in the layer of air close to the ground. The period between 10th December and 10th February each year is usually considered as a Fog period.
Every year DGCA undertakes an exercise to ensure that airlines and aerodrome operators takes action to prepare themselves for fog conditions well in advance so that disruptions and services in terms of flight cancellations and diversions are minimized.
DGCA engages with all stakeholders to check on the readiness of the required support systems on the ground and the operators in terms of aircraft availability and trained crew for operations in CAT II/III conditions.
As of today, 4804 pilots (including 2979 Captains and 1825 Co-pilots) are qualified for CAT II/III operations. The minister informed that 6 airports in India have CAT III landing facilities.
The Minister said that during the fog period, airlines are directed to bring changes in their flight schedules to eliminate non-CAT II/CAT III compliant aircraft from operation.
The airlines are also directed to ensure suitable scheduling of CAT II/CAT III qualified crew suitably. The minister congratulated officials for their initiatives to prepare for fog conditions so that disruptions in flight operations are minimized. Source: PIB.