THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Thiruvananthapuram International Airport will soon switch over to the automated air traffic control (ATC) system, thereby becoming the seventh such airport in the country.
Titled ‘Indra’, the advanced automation technology, which is on a trial run now, is awaiting the final clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The new system has been installed at the airport at a cost of 3,19,000 Euros as part of the Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) efforts to modernise the air traffic management system at the airports in its fold.
A DGCA team which visited the airport early this month had examined the safety and controller-friendly aspects of the new system.
‘’The automated system ensures zero error in our operations,’’ said Shibu Roberts, Joint General Manager (Air Traffic Management).
‘’The early warning system will alert the ATC personnel if two aircraft advance against each other breaching the safety standards,’’ he said.
The ATC rules stipulate a lateral separation of 5 nautical miles (NM) and vertical separation of 1,000 feet between two aircraft when they are in the 50 nautical mile-radius of the radar. Similarly, there are other separation standards if the aircraft are between 50 and 250 NM radius of the radar.
In the automated facility, the system will alert the ATC personnel if it finds two aircraft violating the separation standards.
‘’Another advantage of the new system is that it can incorporate data from four radars at a time. It will be implemented here once the ATC in Kochi and other nearby airports are automated,’’ Shibu Roberts said.
‘’The automated system equipped with STCA/MTCA (short-term and medium-term conflict alerts) is highly useful for the controllers,’’ said S Sajana Chandran, Deputy General Manager, Air Traffic Management.
‘’It will also make useful calculations based on the radar data. Besides actual positioning data, the system provides a graphical visualisation of flight progress with the calculated time of arrival,’’ he said.
‘’Information on the wind direction, cloud and pressure conditions is also displayed on the controlling system monitor,’’ Sajana Chandran said.
Although the automated system is in place, the old system is also being operated simultaneously as a standby. The old system will be decommissioned only after DGCA clears the new system.
‘’The automated system will be more useful at peak times, when there is a possibility of human error,’’ the officials said. Though the number of aircraft arriving or departing the airport is around 50, the ATC has a tough job managing the overflying flights.
‘’We have to control around 400 overflying flights to various destinations during the peak time, which falls in the early morning hours,’’ they said.
The system will also help the ATC staff to manage the flights leaving the control limits of the satellite airports better. The Thiruvananthapuram airport has seven satellite airports, including the Cochin International Airport, Karipur Airport and the airports at Madurai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Tuticorin and Agathy.