The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to respond to a plea seeking to install a fail-safe mechsm -- Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) -- to stop aircraft from overshooting runways at vulnerable airports like Kozhikode and Mangaluru.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde was told that the Centre and DGCA have not filed their responses in the plea.
The apex court asked them to file their responses and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
In September last year, the Bench had issued notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the DGCA and asked them to file their response on the plea.
The plea, which also sought directions to examine what other airports require such mechsms and for installation of the same, said that there was a "deliberate omission" for years to install EMAS in the airports.
"Issue appropriate order or direction, directing the respondents (MoCA and DGCA) to install the EMAS in the airports located in Mangalore, Karnataka and Calicut, Kerala. Direct respondents to examine which other runways and airports in the country require such EMAS and pass directions for installations of the same," the plea said.
It also sought directions for an enquiry to be conducted as to why EMAS were not installed at these airports earlier despite the knowledge of the same and take appropriate actions against the officials responsible under criminal law or any other law.
The plea, filed by 88-year-old mechcal engineer Rajen Mehta, said the Airport Authority of India (AAI) was inclined to install EMAS in the airports in Calicut, initially, and Mangalore, subsequently and had invited proposals for both the airports.
Several presentations were made to the AAI and the features, specifications and advantages of the EMAS were highlighted, the plea said but added that in the year 2008, due to the extreme economic crisis, the Calicut EMAS project was put in abeyance.
It said that the court of inquiry, appointed to investigate into the Mangalore crash in 2010, specifically recommended that systems like the EMAS should be installed on the runway overshoot areas, especially for tabletop airports like Mangalore. Despite the same, no action has been taken by the government till date, the plea added.
"During this time, the aviation industry has seen two horrific incidents at Mangalore (in 2010) and Calicut (in 2020) causing loss of hundreds of lives, which could have been saved by the timely action of the government," it said.
The plea mentioned that in August, an Air India Express plane with 190 people on board has crashed at an airport in the Kozhikode, Kerala, in which 18 people, including the pilot and co-pilot of the flight from Dubai lost their lives.
"EMAS has been installed in approximately more than 125 airports across the world, with more than 100 in the USA itself. The installation of EMAS would not only have saved hundreds of lives, but would have also saved crores of rupees in aircraft and aircraft equipment. There have been at least 15 incidents in the USA itself, where the EMAS has come into play and has prevented accidents," it said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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