Friday, December 29, 2017

Virtual towers to manage smaller airports in TN?

Chennai: The Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) introduced by Civil Aviation Ministry may have made air travel cheaper, but with it comes the challenges of ensuring safe, efficient and economical air navigation services by installing air traffic control towers at these airports.

As the cost of constructing air traffic control towers is costlier, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is looking at introducing remote and virtual tower (RVT), a new concept where air traffic service (ATS) at an airport is performed elsewhere than in the local control tower or to go in for air traffic control towers mounted on vehicles.

S Sreekumar, regional executive director, southern region, AAI, said the authority will be implementing a trailer mounted air traffic control tower as a pilot in Vellore where the RCS scheme is to be launched next year. Already mobile air traffic control tower is being taken up on a experimental basis in Surat, he said. Many airports under RCS scheme doesn’t have ATC tower. Construction of a new ATC tower infrastructure would lead to increase in cost, defeating the purpose of RCS, which aims to provide flight services at a low price, said Sreekumar.

It is learnt that AAI, instead of constructing a new ATC tower at every airport, is set to procure mobile ATC towers to manage flight operations at different airports initially. Trailer mounted mobile tower is fitted with hydraulically operated lifts, enabling the tower cabin to rise up to a height of not less than eight metres from ground level to roof-top of tower.

It provides a 360 degree view for the controllers who can perform all visual air traffic service and control functions. But Sreekumar is betting big on RVT. “It will be managed through a satellite station and we are planning to have it in Chennai,” said Sreekumar. Currently, AAI is looking at the pilot project in Ahmedabad.
29/12/17 C Shivakumar/New Indian Express