CHENNAI: Clearing the decks for commencement of night operations at Thoothukudi airport, National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) gave nod for installation of solar-powered Obstacle Lighting System (OLS) atop Vallanadu hills, which is located inside the Vallanadu Blackbuck Wildlife Sanctuary.
OLS or aircraft warning lights are high-intensity lighting devices used as a collision avoidance measure. Such devices make structures more visible to aircraft, and are usually used at night, although they may be used during the day. These lights have sufficient brightness to be visible for miles.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had made installation of OLS atop Vallanadu hills mandatory for Thoothukudi airport to undertake night operations. The hills are located 15 km west of airport, and are 314m high.
The hills fall directly in the path meant for the take-off and approach of aircraft, which the DGCA identified as a significant obstacle for night operations, said airport director N Subramanian in the application submitted to NBWL seeking wildlife clearance.
The official said currently, Thoothukudi airport operations are restricted only to day time and that too under fair weather conditions due to want of compliance to certain regulatory requirements. “One such requirement is the installation of an OLS,” he said.
As per aviation rules, if there is an object whose height exceeds 150m in the close vicinity of an airport, warning lights have to be installed. AAI officials gave an undertaking to NBWL that the lighting system will not adversely disturb wildlife presence in the sanctuary.