USA — MUMBAI: Flight operations at Mumbai airport were suspended for 11 minutes on Friday a patch of grass near the runway caught fire when crackers were being burst to scare birds away.
The incident occurred around 1.30pm when “bird scarers” were bursting fire crackers -one of the methods used at the airport to keep birds off the flight path to scare away birds flying near the runway. “The grass lit up and as the fire spread, the runway had to be closed for flight operations till the blaze was doused,” said a source.
Confirming the incident, a Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson said that flight operations on the lone operational runway 14-32 were suspended for 11 minutes. The main runway, 09-27, is closed for eight hours, 9am onwards, for the construction of a rapid-exit taxiway. As both the runways were closed, one arriving aircraft had to hold for landing while some flight operations were affected in the afternoon. because of the cascading effect of the closure.
Sources said one flight landed and another took-off in violation of air-safety norms even though the fire had not yet been doused. “The air traffic control should have suspended flight operations till the fire was doused,” the source added.
However, MIAL spokesperson said that flight operations were not allowed during the incident. Last year, in January in a similar accident fire broke out at the Mumbai airport near the main runway. But as it was a small fire the runway was not closed.