Mumbai: Space crunch may hit parking of helicopters and small airplanes at the two airports in Mumbai, with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) planning to implement stringent guidelines to decongest the aerodromes and their runways. Lack of parking space is more acute at the main Chhatrapati Shivaji International (CSI) Airport and implementation of the guidelines would begin soon, airport sources said, adding "parking is a major issue due to the space crunch."
AAI guidelines mandate that at least 75 metres on either side of the runway has to be kept vacant, they said, adding that no obstruction, including parking of aircraft, are allowed within this limit. Juhu airport, which primarily houses helicopters and some private planes, does not have aprons or marked parking spaces, they said, adding that most of the choppers are parked inside over half a dozen hangars belonging to corporates and aviation engineering firms.
The sources said the AAI has already asked aviation regulator DGCA not to allocate Juhu airport as the "usual station for parking" when new aircraft are imported. As per aviation rules, the DGCA permits import of an aircraft only after the importer applies for it, including giving details of where it would be parked.
Generally, Juhu airport has a parking capacity of between 35-45 choppers, which goes up to 60 in peak seasons, and 10-12 fixed wing aircraft. This airport handles about 100 helicopter movements on a daily basis, they said. State-run firms ONGC and Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited are among the major firms which park their choppers at Juhu, mainly for their off-shore oil exploration operations.
The sources said the AAI has prepared a master plan for Juhu airport and already allocated Rs 60 crore for creation of facilities there, but its implementation would take long time. The AAI has already made it clear that the secondary runway at Juhu airport would not be closed down. With this decision, helicopter operators may face difficulty in parking their aircraft, the sources said.