Automatic ATC for small airports

This article was published on : August 28, 2019

The Union ministry of civil aviation is considering an automatic air traffic control facility that does not require people on ground at airstrips to guide planes. This move is expected to prepare ground infrastructure to boost regional flights. Already, airports at Kurnool in Andhra and Mandvi in Gujarat are working on making use of small machines that can guide planes to the runway and transmit ground conditions like wind direction and temperature to pilots.

At Vellore and Neyveli, where airline services are yet to start, the authorities are of the opinion that as they might have only one flight a day, automatic air traffic control units called Advanced Air Traffic Advisory System (AATAS) can be used instead of the traditional air traffic control tower and post controllers. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is looking at different options to encourage airlines to fly to small airports which are being promoted under the regional connectivity scheme Udan.

In Tamil Nadu, AAI is also looking at remote control air traffic control units by which Chennai will be controlling planes at Neyveli, Vellore and other small airports. A mobile unit mounted at the back of a trailer truck was tried out at Vellore. One such unit can be used for multiple airports. After handling one or two flights at an airport, it can be moved to a nearby airport. There is, however, no decision yet on the type of ATC service for small airports as airlines have not shown interest to fly from Vellore, Neyveli or Thanjavur.

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