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Radar-less BIAL faces dearth of ATCs

Radar-less BIAL faces dearth of ATCs
Tuesday May 13 2008 09:50 IST
http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IE120080512232926&Title=Bangalore&rLink=0

Monica Jha / Express News Service

BANGALORE: THE two radars at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) are not yet stabilised.

BIA has a primary and a secondary radar which are not working properly and need some fine-tuning on the software. BIA is using a simulator to train its controllers.

Out of the two simulators at BIA, one is not working, while the other is inconsistent and needs to be reset during an operation, restarting the whole process.

The data fed in the simulator is taken from the HAL Airport but BIA has different restrictions of airspace and different procedure for arrivals and departures.

The acute shortage of air traffic controllers (ATCs) is also a worry to the BIA. The sanctioned number of ATCs at BIA is 120, but only 60 ATCs have reported to the Airport so far.

The number of radar controllers presently working at BIA is 12, out of which two are fresh from institutes having no prior work experiences.

“A youngster can have a better thought process, faster reaction and can be more productive than many experienced controllers but experience becomes critical in a situation of crisis, if the radar fails. Confidence of the controller would also count,” said an expert from the aviation industry.

According to the rules of Airports Authority of India (AAI) for greenfield airports, a controller needs to have at least 60 hours of experience of working on a simulator before handling the actual air traffic at an airport. Twelve radar controllers together at the BIA require a minimum of 720 hours of training.

The AAI installed the ATC equipment in the first half of April. The minimum training period cannot be completed before operations in spite of working in extra shifts, as only 8 to 10 hours of training was effectively available per day due to the inconsistent performance of one simulator and the non performance of the other.

Now, as BIA is about to receive approval from Director General of Civil Aviation, the operator of the Airport Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) will have to complete training before the launch of commercial operations at BIA.

BIAL has apparently requested HAL for radar services. Presently, nine radar controllers are working at HAL Airport in three shifts. HAL would be able to meet the requirements of its own, as well as that of BIA, only if at least over 20 radar controllers are available.

Moreover, the radar at HAL Airport is old and is not capable of handling all the work of HAL and BIA together and two new radars are under installation. Radar controllers at HAL Airport are not trained to work under specific restrictions enforced at the BIA.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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