The proposed second runway at the Bangalore International Airport (BIA) is likely to have an adverse impact on the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots’ training activities at its Yelahanka airbase here.
The IAF and BIA operate in close proximity and the distance between their existing runways is around 5.3 nautical miles (NM), where 1 NM equals to 1.86 km. The proposed runway at the airport will bring them even closer. The distance between extended centre line of the BIA and the flying circuit at the Yelahanka base is 2.85 NM, while the distance between the extended centre line at the proposed second runway and the flying circuit at the air base will be only 1.82 NM. The concern expressed in some quarters is that the reduced distance between area of operations of two entities will also mean reduction in the airspace safety margin along with high traffic density.
The BIA is one of the busiest airports in the country, while at Yelahanka, IAF trains its pilots on AN-32 and Dornier transport aircraft. Also, helicopter pilots are trained here all through the year. In fact, the rising air traffic has put pressure all the three airports -- Yelahanka, BIA and HAL, which now operates only private aircraft.
Keeping that concern in view, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has constituted a coordination committee including BIA, IAF and HAL airports. “The agenda has been to discuss challenges and issues to have an integrated airspace management approach in the region. The committee will look into all the operational and safety aspects,” said a Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) official. The BIAL official said the second runway location on the southern side was always a part of the master plan and has been approved by MoCA. Currently, it is in the planning stage and is likely to be completed in the first quarter of 2015, the official added.
The IAF is watching the developments keenly. “The new runway will reduce the distance, but there is no problem as we have proper Standard Operating Procedures put in place,” Air Marshal Rajinder Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of IAF Training Command said. According to the Training Command Chief, the Air Force Military Liaison (AFML) Unit established at the BIA is helping in expediting the clearances for take-off and landings at Yelahanka and number of radars are also put in place for efficient airspace management between them.
During the recent meeting to discuss the issue of second runway, the BIA officials are said to have assured IAF that its activities will not be impacted. A high level committee consisting of officers from IAF, BIAL, Airports Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and other agencies are currently looking into the possible impact of second runway on IAF activities.