BENGALURU: With the intention of keeping the Government Flying Training School (GFTS), Jakkur, alive and functioning, the state government has put behind speculations about the flying school being shifted and started the process of extending the runway to increase the safety margin.
Four acres of land have been identified on the eastern side of the aerodrome and the runway extension planned is 170 metres.
An extended runway will also enhance Jakkur’s connectivity with other airfields and this has captured the interest of aviation firms. Operators with Non Scheduled Operation Permit (NSOP) plan to connect Bengaluru with other cities and towns through Jakkur.
Currently, the aerodrome has a 854-metre runway, but part of it has been rendered unusable after the elevated highway (40-plus feet) came up on its flight path. The school was grounded for a few days after concerns over the safety of aspiring pilots undergoing training.
Though safety concerns still remain, the school was allowed to reopen after experts looked into the issue. The elevated highway near the aerodrome was marked as an “runway obstruction” painted in red and white so that pilots can notice it while take-off and landing.
This, however, has created issues for students at the school.
Normally, students are allowed to fly solo after they fly with an instructor for 15 to 20 hours. Now, the training period has been increased to 25 to 30 hours. That means an additional expenditure of around `1 lakh for each student.
Seven GFTS students, Tejhashwin, Abhay, Avinash, Girish, Ramesh Rao, Sameer and Kavya went solo recently. Sources said the runway extension will increase the safety margin and reduce the financial burden for aspiring pilots.
The land identified for runway extension is in a ‘No Construction Zone’ adjacent to the aerodrome. GFTS is going in for a land survey of the 216-acre aerodrome and once that is done, a notification for acquiring additional land will be issued.
Operators Show Interest
When contacted, Wg Cdr (Retd) Amarjeet Singh Dange, Director and Chief Flight Instructor, GFTS, told Express that many operators, both fixed wing and helicopter, have shown interest to operate from Jakkur and are currently looking into those requests. “Runway extension will enhance connectivity of Jakkur with airstrips in other parts of the state,” he said.
Arvind Jadhav, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism Department, had recently stated that Supreme Aviation and UTair have shown interest in operating ‘air chariots’ to tourist destinations in the state and there is a proposal to house them at the Jakkur aerodrome.