Ctg airport faces risk as fire tenders out of order
Aircraft are facing serious risks while landing at or taking off from Shah Amanat International Airport (SAIA) in Chittagong since all the airport's three fire-fighting vehicles have been unserviceable for about two months.
Airport authorities have made arrangements with the fire service stations in Chittagong city for sending fire-fighting vehicles daily to attend aircraft landing and take-off. But the authorities often have to advise planes awaiting landing to fly slow or hover in the sky when fire-fighting vehicles delay in reaching the airport, about 12 kilometres from the city.
Airline officials fear that if the international aviation watchdogs come to know about this situation at the SAIA, they might downgrade it from its present status of an international airport.
According to rules, the presence of fire-fighting vehicles at an airport is a must at the time of aircraft's landing and take-off.
On June 12, the pilot of an aircraft of Biman Bangladesh Airlines landed the plane at the airport at his own risk after hovering in the sky for about 40 minutes although fire fighters had not yet arrived, Biman sources said.
SAIA authorities said fire-fighting vehicles often delay in reaching the airport because of heavy rain or traffic congestion. Problems also occur when an aircraft arrives before scheduled time, they added.
"We ask pilots to fly slow or hover in the sky when fire-fighting vehicles arrive late or when an aircraft arrives before its scheduled time," a high official of the SAIA told The Daily Star seeking anonymity.
He, however, initially declined to provide any information, saying as a government official he cannot give journalists any such information.
He also said the situation is not too bad to close the runway. "But, if the situation becomes that bad, we will close the airfield or ask pilots to avoid the airport," he added.
The official said the SAIA has three fire-fighting vehicles, of which two are "problematic" while the other is partially unserviceable.
Group Captain M Naim Hossain, member (operations and planning) of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star on Monday that the fire-fighting vehicles of SAIA are not fully unserviceable.
According to him, technicians are supposed to go to the SAIA today to repair the vehicles.
Biman pilots said they are facing a lot of troubles in maintaining their service because of the present situation at the SAIA.
The problems could become serious if an aircraft does not have enough fuel to keep hovering in the sky, a Biman high official said.
He said if the International Civil Aviation Organisation or the Federal Aviation Administration comes to know about the present condition at the SAIA, the airport's status as an international airport might be downgraded.
Four international airlines--Thai Airways, Airarabia, RAK Airways and Oman Air-- operate from the SAIA at present.