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Force Magazine

Airspace Management

Providing modernised air navigation services of international standards across airports in India gets priority

By Atul Chandra

As air traffic grows in India, the provision of modern air navigation services will help improve the overall quality of service to passengers travelling by air. Improved air navigation services will help in the direct routing of aircraft from point to point, and helping reduce congestions at airports. The result is reduced flying time for passengers and saving in fuel consumption for airlines along with lower carbon emissions.

While the available airspace has not changed, there has been a manifold increase in air traffic and and according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation Report: India’s air traffic management system prepares for transformational change, released in July last year “by FY2023, arriving and departing movements will have more than doubled again to 3.8 million. And in terms of over-flight movements, given India’s geographic location between two of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world, namely Asia and the Middle East, the upper level corridors through Indian airspace are also expected to become increasingly crowded.” It adds that “the magnitude of growth that is expected will create significant pressures on air traffic management in India to which ad hoc responses will not suffice. Long term solutions will require a new way of thinking with a fresh approach and an organisation that is focused not only on technology and equipment, but also people and training.”

Investments made in the latest technologies and airspace management equipment would not only enable India’s aviation sector to gain access to the latest technology faster but will also ensure that congested airspace does not put the brakes on India’s fast growing aviation sector. Managing airspace is extremely important as approximately 35 per cent of the airspace is reserved for military use only. Investments are being made to handle increased air traffic but for sure much more needs to be done. In December last year, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) contracted Spanish multinational Indra to modernise Delhi’s air control centre, which manages one of the busiest air traffic areas in India including operations in Indira Gandhi International airport. Some 140 controller positions and an advanced automated air traffic management system for Delhi’s approach and route centre will be installed as part of the contract. The new system will enable operators to benefit from an integrated view of all aircraft movements in the airspace under their responsibility while detecting potential route conflicts and calculating possible alternatives in advance. Additionally, it will expedite coordination with other control centres and facilitate communication with pilots. Indra also recently completed installation and handed over the Kolkata control centre to the AAI. The control centre has 80 air controller positions and once fully operational, will allow controllers to confidently reduce the separation between two aircraft by one-third the current distance and also double the number of take-offs and landings from the airport. Indra already provides the technology for two of the four air control centres managing India’s en-route traffic.

Four approach and tower simulators for training towers at the air control centres of Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have also been installed by the company.

Not only can the training towers faithfully reproduce a real control centre but they can also be used as backup if the need arises. The Spanish firm has been very successful in India, with Indra completing work in 2013 to deploy nine mode S radars, which now control around 80 per cent of Indian airspace. Nine secondary radar systems with mode S technology are operational at radar stations in Chennai, Bellary, Vizag, Porbandar, Bhopal, Udaipur, Jharsuguda, Kolkata and Katihar. Indra’s AIRCON 2100 ATS automation systems are available at 38 Air Traffic Control (ATC) centres, including major ones such as Trivandrum, Guwahati, Ahmadabad, Nagpur, Varanasi, Mangalore, Cochin and Amritsar.

Mumbai airport has a distinctive 275 ft tall ATC
Mumbai airport has a distinctive 275 ft tall ATC

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