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Whistleblower Yeshwant Shenoy warns of more plane disasters

Whistleblower Yeshwant Shenoy, 39, whose petition on high-rise obstacles around the Mumbai airport was disposed of by the Bombay High Courton technical grounds, on Thursday said the crash in Ghatkopar was a “teaser”. He warned of an imminent crash of a commercial plane in residential neighbourhoods if air safety violations are not taken seriously.

Shenoy, a lawyer who is based in Kochi, said, “I wasn’t surprised when the first reports of the crash came in. Either the pilot found the under-construction building an obstruction or if there was some technical snag, he didn’t enough time to manoeuvre and decided to land in open space. If the aviation authorities do not wake up, a commercial airliner could soon come down on highly populated areas around the airport, and then we won’t be able to count the toll.”

Shenoy said nowhere else in the world are approach areas of airports infringed upon. “The Mumbai airport approaches are surrounded by 450 buildings. An incoming flight’s alarms go off when they are landing in Mumbai. Singapore Airlines, for example, does not land in Mumbai if the main runway is not operational. If the airport is functioning on the secondary runway, it chooses to land at another airport as its flight systems warn it of obstacles around the runway,” he said.

Shenoy’s petition had resulted in HC taking the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to task. The AAI had issued more than 400 notices to buildings to reduce their height in the no-obstacle zone of the airport. Shenoy’s petition was disposed of in April on technical grounds.

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