CHANDIGARH: The Chandigarh airbase which is the biggest air logistics base in the country for the army troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for the second time from May 12 to May 31 due to runway upgradation thus now the supplies and other logistical support is being carried from the Ambala airbase. Finally this upgradation project will be completed by August, next year but flight operations will resume from June 1.
Air Commodore S Srinivasan, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), 12 Wing Air Force said, "annually 29,000 tones of material is airlifted from this airbase for our armed forces deployed in J&K in the summers it is little less and winters it’s more. Every day from our base 10 to 15 sorties are carried out to drop the material at various locations. Due to this closer now the operation, for the time being, are carried from Ambala."
The base was made in 1961, the runway was due for repair and enhancement in 2014. The improvement plan involved extension and strengthening of the runway and other operating surfaces so as to accommodate sustained operations by bigger and heavier military and civil aircrafts.
" The resurfacing works it is divided into four phases. In Phase I improvement of 7,200 feet of bitumen surface of the runway which involves laying of eight separate layers of Dense Asphaltic Concrete (DAC), it will finish by May 31. While in Phase II which will finish by November or December this year improvement and extension of runway ends to extend the runway from the existing 9,000 feet to 12, 400 feet will be done. During this phase while flight operations would continue during the day but no night flying. While by February next year Phase III work will finish which involves fitment of runway lights and other navigational aids. Thus unrestricted day and night operations will start from this airfield for both civil and military aircrafts. Thus big aircrafts like 777, 787 and Airbus 330 will be able to land and take off from here, " he said.
He added that by August next year the whole project will be completed as Rs 450 crore are being spent on the upgradation of this runway and after Delhi and Mumbai it will be best runway in the country.
"The Ministry of Defense has also send a proposal to Civil Aviation Ministry that the old building of the Chandigarh airport should be handed over to the air force so that from there we can have a dedicated army and air logistics operations," said Srinivasan.
He said, "At present, this runway has a restricted Cat I ILS System which permits operations down to 1200 meters visibility. As part of airfield improvement, IAF is installing a Cat II ILS system which will permit operations down to 350m visibility. Due to its proximity to the hills, the visibility at Chandigarh is always better than that at places like Amritsar or Delhi. Statistical data over the last years reveals that the visibility at Chandigarh drops below 350m only during the month of December (last week), January and February (First week). The average time where the visibility is below 350m is there hours a day for ten days in January, and four days each in December and February."
The runway was first closed from February 12 to 26 and now for the second time from May 12 to 31 May. Due to the closure also all domestic and international flights have also been cancelled at the Chandigarh International Airport.