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Panel suggests handling over modernisation of landing facilities at defence airfields to AAI

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 3

A key Parliamentary panel has suggested that elements pertaining to navigation equipment and landing facilities in the Ministry of Defence’s project on Modernisation of Military Airfields Infrastructure (MAFI) be handed over to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for implementation as it would help increase operational efficiency and enhance flight safety of civilian aircraft, particularly in adverse weather conditions.

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has recommended that civil aviation agencies form a high-level committee with the Indian Air Force to cull out activities from MAFI that are related to navigation equipment, approach landing systems, runway and threshold lights etc.

“The utilization of these navigational aids, which have been installed across the country, is primarily done by AAI, which has domain knowledge. They are also familiar with the quality procurement process, maintenance and operational requirements of these instruments which they have been using for civil operations for over 50 years,” the committee said in its report tabled in Parliament on August 2.

AAI manages 137, which include 23 domestic civil enclaves at military airfields. While the civil terminal building and facilities for civilian passengers are the jurisdiction of AAI, air operations at civil enclaves, including the runway, air traffic control and emergency services are owned and operated by the defence ministry.

AAI also provides air traffic management services over the entire Indian airspace and adjoining oceanic areas.

Expressing concern over the considerable delay in flight operations and cancellation of flights at various airports due to non-availability of Category-II and Category-III Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), the committee asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to ensure up-gradation of air navigation infrastructure in the country on utmost priority and in line with international standards.

Hoping that the MAFI, which is a turnkey project, would enhance the operational capability by facilitating air operations of civilian aircraft in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions while enhancing aerospace safety, the committee recommended that development of the reset of the infrastructure planned under MAFI may continue as envisaged for greater synergy between civil aviation requirements and the operational requirements of the IAF.

MAFI is a multi-phase project to improve infrastructure and operational facilities at military airfields that includes installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment like ILS, airfield lighting system, automation, upgrading of air traffic control services and refurbishment of runway and dispersal day surfaces.

In the first phase, 30 airfields were upgraded, while in the second phase that commenced in 2020, another 37 airfields will be covered.

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