Air Force opposes BIAL plan on second runway

Air Force opposes BIAL plan on second runway
Ravi Sharma

It has been thought of south of the existing runway

The runways at AFS Yelahanka and BIA are parallel to each other
Air Force has no objection to a runway being built to the north of the existing one

BANGALORE: The Air Force has strongly objected to the plans of the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), the holding company that has built the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) at Devanahalli, to build a second runway south of the existing one.

In presentations made in New Delhi by the Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) and an officer from the operations wing of Air Headquarters’ Air Traffic Control on June 16 and 25 respectively, the Air Force has stressed that a runway south of the existing one would drastically reduce the lateral separation between the flight paths of aircraft taking off and landing at Devanahalli and those from the Air Force’s premier training establishment, Air Force Station (AFS) Yelahanka.

During the presentations, which were made to the Cabinet Secretary and the Secretary (Coordination) respectively and included representatives from the BIAL and the Airports Authority of India, the Air Force has also said that it has no objection to a runway being built to the north of the present runway at Devanahalli.

The runways at AFS Yelahanka and BIA are parallel to each other with a lateral separation of around 3 nautical miles between them; a runway 1.5 km to the south will reduce this separation to 2 nautical miles. While the number of flight movements from BIA is around 160 per day, movements out of AFS Yelahanka, including those undertaken by pilots of the helicopter training school, counts to an average of 400.

Speaking to The Hindu Air Marshal V.R. Iyer, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, Air Force, said that a runway built south of the present one could jeopardise flight safety, and result in training activities at AFS Yelahanka coming to a standstill. “Currently, a good level of co-existence between the two airports has been worked out with only minor delays in flight movements. And crucially there is a safe distance between the flight paths from the two runways. But a runway to the south would result in the lateral separation between the flight paths from the two airports reducing drastically, resulting in the triggering off of the collision warning indicator.”

Explaining the Air Force’s position, Air Marshal Iyer said that with the first meeting proving inconclusive, the Cabinet Secretary had after stating that the issue was a delicate one, referred it to the Secretary (Coordination). With that meeting as well being inconclusive it had been referred back to the Cabinet Secretary.

“A runway to the South will result in AFS Yelahanka having to close down its flying activities. We usually have around 30 transport pilots and a sizeable number of helicopter pilots undergoing training at the station,” Air Marshal Iyer added.

The Air Marshal also termed as impractical suggestions that the Air Force shift some of its flying to the HAL airport.

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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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