Flights face risk as runway design faulty | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 23, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:19 AM, October 23, 2015

Saidpur Airport

Flights face risk as runway design faulty

Short turning distance blamed for two recent mishaps

Aircraft of three airlines operating regular internal flights to and from Saidpur airport face risks due to shorter than required safety distance at the turning between the runway and the taxiway.

Lack of adequate rescue and fire fighting equipment adds to the situation.

After landing on the runway, an aircraft proceeds through it and then uses the taxiway to reach the parking spot.

The safety distance between the runway and the taxiway for internal flights should be at least 500 feet but it is only 300 feet at Saidpur airport, said sources of the airport and the airlines concerned.

Consequently, aircrafts, especially big ones, face difficulties while taking turn at the end of the runway before entering the taxiway, they said. 

On September 4, a wheel of Dash-8 Q-400 aircraft belonging to US-Bangla Airlines skidded off the runway while taking turn to enter the taxiway.

As the airport does not have adequate rescue arrangements, Bangladesh army with their rescue equipment reached the spot and dragged the aircraft onto the runway.

On July 13, an aircraft of the same type belonging to Bangladesh Biman dashed a small electric pole, causing fracture of a wheel.

“Flights operation to and from Saidpur airport is risky due to its design faults and limitations. I pointed out the matter in my speech in latest session of Jatiya Sangsad last month, asking the authorities for immediate solution,” said Golam Mostofa, lawmaker from Nilphamari-3 constituency, who was a victim of September 4 mishap at Saidpur airport. 

Government owned Bangladesh Biman and private owned US-Bangla Airlines and United Airways regularly operate passenger flights in Dhaka-Saidpur-Dhaka route.

The first two airlines use 74-seated aircraft and the third one use 64-seated aircraft.

Important people including lawmakers in the northern region, foreign investors in Uttara EPZ, foreign engineers and technicians in Barapukuria coal mine and Modhyapara hard rock mine frequently use the flights.

But the airport suffers from acute staff shortage, in addition to its infrastructural problems and inadequate rescue and fire fighting arrangements.

Shahin Ahmed, manager of the airport, said, "Our higher authorities are well aware of the situation. Process is on to turn it as an international airport equipped with all modern facilities for promoting trade and tourism, especially with neighbouring Nepal and Bhutan."

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