Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nato aircraft making Pakistani airspace unsafe

Javed Mirza 
Sunday, April 22, 2012 

KARACHI: The Nato aircraft changing their flying levels without taking orders from the traffic control department during the monsoon season, is creating issues for the other traffic flying on different levels and thus making the airspace near Afghan border area more vulnerable to any collision.

The Green 325 area in Balochistan has no radar coverage for 100 miles despite high air traffic frequency, while no data is available of flights taking off from Afghanistan due to telex problems between the aviation authorities of both the countries, sources said.

“Changing the flying levels by the Nato planes on their own in the monsoon season is the biggest issue CAA is facing currently, because this makes the country’s airspace vulnerable to any disaster in this highly sensitive zone of Pak-Afghan border areas,” sources said.

Sources in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) informed that currently they were facing serious issues in Balochistan and near Afghanistan border areas where the frequency of air traffic was quite high.

“Due to the absence of radar coverage, we are not in a position to monitor the flying activities there and this is a very big security lapse,” sources said, adding that flights taking off from Afghanistan contacted the traffic control system of Pakistan CAA at the eleventh hour, which created complexities of routing the whole traffic and this could result in any untoward situation.

Aviation sources said that radar surveillance was required there to help CAA’s controllers judging the separation between aircraft coming from different many regions.

“Radar display has been improved but antennas are poor. The missing, doubling and jumping of targets is very common, and this has been for one year,” they added. A lot of air traffic consists of landing/departing of civil traffic, military operations, and allied forces aircraft operating to/from Afghanistan.

This is besides the 470 to 550 aircraft over flying the country’s space in 24 hours time.

Besides the radar surveillance issues, the CAA staff is provided with complex procedures, which add to the monitoring problems. “The procedures CAA provides to their traffic control departments are very confusing, and most of the time increases the workload instead of shedding. Procedures and air routes are developed by the officers sitting in the headquarters with the guess of having 70 to 100 aircraft over flying Pakistan air space in 24 hours, which has not been the case for years,” sources added.

The lack of surveillance is not only limited to Balochistan and Pak-Afghan border areas, as Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport (JIAP) is as vulnerable to any disasters as the mentioned areas of the West part of the country. “Brazil conducted a capacity assessment study of air controlling at Karachi’s JIAP from 8 to 14 January, 2010, in which they found that the Heavy Load Threshold (HLT) value for air traffic controllers is much time higher than international standards,” sources informed.

Sources further told that during that study, they found that there were 36 (with radar) and 323 (with no radar) occasions when all the sectors of air controlling were reaching and working beyond calculated capacity, so any disaster was not far from reality.

No comments:

Post a Comment