Saturday, July 06, 2019

With no contact with Chennai ATC, airline pilots are flying blind over Bay of Bengal

New Delhi: A major tragedy may be in the offing due to poor communication signals from Chennai Air Traffic Control (ATC) as pilots of commercial airlines are forced to fly 'blind' for more than an hour over the Bay of Bengal.

For a commercial pilot flying a plane with passengers, it is essential that he/she keeps adequate contact with ATC towers for better co-ordination. However, for past few weeks, pilots flying aircrafts from Southeast Asia and Australia to India and Europe are forced to fly without assistance from the Chennai ATC.

Times of India reported that due to poor signals from Chennai ATC ovet High and Very High Frequencies (HF and VHF), there has become a zone over Bay of Bengal where they have no assistance, nor they can get essential clearances like for diversion in a flight's route.

If a pilot wishes to deviate from his designated flight path due to reasons like bad weather etc. he has to obtain permission from the ATC to do so. Weather on high seas is almost always rough. And due to bad signals from the Chennai ATC, pilots are not being able to obtain such important clearances.

They are hence being forced to fly through bad conditions which may include strong winds, lightening and possibly even storms.
“We often relay messages through other planes that fly nearby if they have a link. But not all pilots allow it for fear of getting it wrong. The channel for VHF and HF is clogged because too many pilots try contacting the ATC,” a pilot told Times of India.
06/07/19 IndiaTV News
06/07/19 Arpit Basu/Times of India

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