Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has admitted that the construction of new Islamabad Airport is not going as initially planned. A serious technical mistake was made which severely restricts the airport’s capability to handle two concurrent flights at the same time.
While briefing the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the new airport, CAA’s Director General, Air Marshall Asim Suleman (retd.) admitted that there had been a design error which was overlooked during the initial stages.
The design flaw prevents two aeroplanes from taking off or landing simultaneously despite the availability of two runways
PAC member, Shafqat Mehmood said it was “a criminal error.” Due to the technical error, CAA will not be able to handle any increase in traffic on the airport.
Birdeye View of New Islamabad Airport
According to the CAA’s estimates, the new airport was estimated to easily manage 9 million passenger annually, which is double the amount of passengers that the Benazir Bhutto International Airport can handle. In comparison, Karachi airport can only manage 6 million passengers per year.
DG CAA said that a US firm was contracted to design the airport runways and the firm suggested that two parallel runways can be constructed with a distance of 200 metres between both of them. However, after the runways were completed, technical experts said that an aircraft would not be able to take off while another one is landing. The same problem would arise of two planes were landing simultaneously.
The Design Flaw
According to him “For the concurrent landing or taking off of aeroplanes, the minimum distance between two parallel runway strips should be one kilometre.” It can still be done, but one of the planes has to be on the ground for the other one to start its task (flight or takeoff), hence a delay in every flight.
He admitted that the flaw in the design should have been noticed and corrected during the initial phase. It was overlooked and contractors ended up building two runways with a distance of 201 metres.
Another Act of Manipulation
PAC Member, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, made another astounding revelation regarding the road infrastructure of the airport. He said that the real estate mafia used their influence to link the airport road with their housing societies.
Rather than constructing a straight road from Golra Mor (Kashmir Highway), like the initial plan, the road will be constructed in a zigzag manner in order to link most of the housing societies near the area. Another official said, the Army’s Central Mechanical Transport and Storage Depot also opposed the construction forcing them to redesign.
The road will now start at Golra Mor towards the entrance to the Motorway and then take a turn from Peshawar Interchange before linking the airport.
Two dams are also being established to supply the airport with water. Ramma and Kassana dams will be able to supply up to 3.3 million gallons of water each day. The dams will rely on rainwater and once the water level reaches maximum, it would be sufficient for two whole years.
The airport is estimated to be completed by December 2016, however, the designers have already left the country and any future construction might be delayed especially if the runways are constructed again.
The DG CAA has also been asked to explain the alleged awarding of the Lahore Airport extension to Turkey and Qatar based firms without going through any bidding process.
Frankly, we cannot help but be absolutely flabbergasted at this display of incompetence. The US firm responsible for the design, the reviewers on the Pakistani side and everyone managing the project need to be held accountable for this waste of taxpayer money not to even mention the time that’s going to be spent on rectifying the issues facing New Islamabad Airport.