Thursday, March 15, 2012

India - Linking southern radars saves money for airlines

CHENNAI: In spite of some shortfalls, a success story appears to have been scripted behind the consoles of air traffic controllers in the city. 

Airlines saved 22.3 million litres of jet fuel flying over the southern region after the Airports Authority of India (AAI) modernized air traffic control, networked radar and redesigned air space to accommodate more flights at higher cruising altitude.

The system was on trial for nearly a year before being launched officially in September 2011. The efforts have won the AAI the prestigious Jane ATC award this year.

The AAI has decided to replicate the project in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata by year-end.

Ten radars, including newly-installed ones at Vizag and Bellary, were networked as part of a project in Chennai flight information region. Air space above 25,500 feet was controlled from a single centre, helping eliminate blind spots, providing less separation to flights and minimizing delays. Controllers can now monitor flights approaching the southern region's flight zone from as far as Nagpur.

"Integration of radar has helped us give direct routes to flights and save a huge quantity of fuel, reduce delays and emissions. The system has also improved safety. This has increased our operational efficiency," said V Somasundaram, member, air navigation services, AAI board.

Airlines saved 3,121 hours and 14.7 crore litres of fuel by flying shorter routes above 25,000 feet. The amount of fuel saved goes up further if reduced separation and flight level are also added. "Controllers are giving high flight altitude. There is only 50 mile separation between one flight and another flying behind it. This shows that controllers are getting a better radar picture on their monitors," said a pilot.


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