Air Traffic Management, Flight Safety

Rapid automation in aviation safety

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Satellite-based radar systems with GPS to map flights across oceans soon

Within a year or so, satellite-based and radar-based systems are to be introduced across the world which will even map oceans with the help of Global Positioning System (GPS) and with modern aircraft carrying a transponder to transmit regular messages of its location, informed Director of Hyderabad Airports G.S. Rao on Monday.

Addressing a gathering at the Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP) International Day celebrations at Begumpet airport, he said the changes in the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) systems are happening at a rapid pace with automation and integration.

Yet there is space for the human intervention for some time to come, he observed.

Apart from Air Traffic Controllers, pilots and maintenance engineers, ATSEPs contribute towards a safe flight from ‘gate’ of one airport to another airport ‘gate’. These technical specialists provide electronics and software support playing a vital role in the aviation safety chain in specification, procurement, installation, calibration, maintenance, testing and certification of ground electronic systems to help control aircraft movements.

The Director said the shift from the totally ground-based air navigation radar systems and from voice based communication to data based communication is happening rapidly, hence it is imperative for skills to be continuously upgraded for the technical personnel.

While the country is on a par with international standards in terms of CNS, the concept of a ‘single sky’ as is being planned for Europe where the regional centres need would be redundant but this is not yet on the policy plan here. Similarly, the concept of ‘virtual’ radar towers in operation in some places abroad is yet to be taken up.

Speakers also explained that the Indian airspace is over 2.8 million square nautical miles assigned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with peak hours having up to 60 planes an hour although Delhi has registered 82 planes an hour! It means 1,440 aircraft are operating each day and growth rate of aviation in the Asia-Pacific region is in double digits increasing the burden of airports and the CNS personnel.

Airports Authority of India GM O.S. Ekka, DGCA S. Toppo, Air India GM Solomon Jeyabalan, DGM N.S. Chakravarthy, IMD in-charge Director (Hyd) Y.K. Reddy, also spoke at the function.

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