Scindia and Tharoor in Social Media Spat over Delhi Airport Woes
IANS 17 January 2024
Union civil aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday referred to Shashi Tharoor as an 'arm-chair critic' in response to the Congress MP's (member of Parliament's) critique of the management of Delhi airport's operations amid the winter fog season.
 
Mr Scindia issued a detailed counter-argument through a series of posts on X, underscoring the government's proactive initiatives and the intricate technical challenges inherent in aviation operations.
 
This exchange occurred after Mr Tharoor criticised the aviation ministry in a series of posts on X, incorporating various media reports to underscore the disarray at the airport.
 
Mr Scindia started his tweet with a dig at Mr Tharoor saying: “It is for someone who is lost in his esoteric world of thesaurus that data mining of selective press articles from the internet qualifies as 'research'.”
 
The minister, while elaborating the steps taken, wrote, “Here are some actual facts for arm-chair critic @ShashiTharoor and the Cong IT Cell that might help tackle their lack of depth in understanding of technical sectors like civil aviation.”
 
“Runway maintenance work is a critical safety element for aviation operations, and any compromise with runway conditions directly jeopardizes passenger safety.
 
"As a result, the maintenance was taken on top priority to be completed by 15th December before the onset of the fog season. However, due to pollution incidents and enforcement of GRAP-IV in Delhi, the recarpeting got delayed, resulting in a delay of one month in its commissioning. The revamped RWY is getting operational this week,” said Scindia in tweet.
 
Mr Scindia also addressed concerns about a crane impacting runway operations, stating that crane operations will now be limited to non-fog days to ensure the operational readiness of RWY 11R/29L as CAT III.
 
Responding to Mr Tharoor's claims about the shortage of trained pilots, Mr Scindia refuted them, stating that the number of CAT II/CAT III trained pilots has increased from 2416 in 2014 to 6191, a 2.5-fold jump in the last nine years. He emphasised the DGCA's strict enforcement of deploying CAT IIIB compliant aircraft with qualified crew during the winter season.
 
In the context of CAT III landings, Scindia explained the three dependent factors—Runway Capability, Aircraft Capability, and Pilot Accreditation. He clarified that CAT III operations depend on the highest common factor among these variables and provided a comparison with JFK Airport in the USA to put India's capabilities into perspective.
 
“The two CAT III runways at Delhi Airport are equipped for aircraft to land with minimum visibility of up to 50 meters. However, the majority of the aircraft fleet in India viz. Airbus 320 (75 mtrs) and Boeing 737 Max (175 mtrs) have visibility minima greater than the runway threshold. Thus, even if the runway is capable and sufficiently trained CAT III pilots are made available, these aircraft are not designed for Zero Visibility operations.
 
"Further to give you a perspective, JFK ( New York ) airport in the USA has 4 runways, but the airport only has 1 runway capable of CAT III landing which is also with a restricted minima up to 182 mtrs (600 feet) – 3.5 times of India’s 50 mtrs!
 
"Go figure it out yourself - Enlightened, Mr Tharoor!” said Mr Scindia in the tweet.
 
“The treatment meted out to the passengers in the instant case was unacceptable, and we have acted immediately in the form of a show cause notice to the concerned operators. Further, SOPs for better communication to passengers were also issued." Implementation is being monitored thrice daily, Mr Scindia further tweeted.
 
“This is just baseless rhetoric.- Airlines that shut shop/were brought to failure during the UPA rule = Kingfisher, Jet Airways, Air India. Under the NDA govt, along with Akasa, 5 new regional airlines have taken birth under the PM’s UDAN vision,” Scindia further wrote.
 
“Fleet size has increased from 400 in 2014 to 730 today, and will reach 1,500 - 2,000 by 2030. Airports have doubled from 74 in the last 65 years to 149 today. This will reach 220 in the next 3-4 years."
 
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