AAI introduces Mobile Air Traffic Control (ATC) Towers to meet infrastructural requirement of airports under their Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)
Words: Santosh Dhoke, Jt. GM (CNS-P) & J B Singh, Jt. GM (CNS), AAI
As the Indian economy grows, consumption-led growth in populated metros is likely to spread to the neighbouring areas. In this scenario, improved air connectivity can give the required push towards economic growth of regional centres (towns/cities).
Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), in 2016, formulated the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) that prioritised the idea of enhancing regional connectivity through financial support and infrastructural development. Linking more cities through air routes under RCS-UDAN has been resulting in the promotion of tourism and increase in employment. This is supporting a balanced growth for the targeted regions, simultaneously providing a significant growth for the civil aviation sector.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has undertaken development of infrastructure at its airports for the aggressive implemention of UDAN effectively.
AAI’s role in facilitating Mobile ATC Towers
Understanding the urgency of meeting the requirement of ATC Towers along with the CNS/ATM Systems and other ancillary facilities, AAI has procured Mobile ATC towers to manage flight operations at different airports. AAI, under the long-term programme of development of regional airports, has procured eight Mobile ATC Towers at a cost of `64.57 Crores. These towers have been supplied by M/s MSM Martin Sro of the Slovak Republic for following airports under UDAN: Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh), Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh), Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh), Jeypore (Odisha), Utkela (Odisha) have been already commissioned to use the Mobile ATC Tower. Work is under progress for Vellore (Tamil Nadu), Bokaro (Jharkhand) and Mithapur (Gujarat).
One of the elementary infrastructural requirements for providing Air Navigation Services (ANS) at any operational airport is to get an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower fitted with the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance System (CNS) for Air Traffic Management (ATM). Airports under UDAN are required to be made operational in a time-bound manner, which demands the availability of ATC Tower and a Mobile ATC Tower adds dual benefits like prompt service and cost effectiveness.
“Prompt service” is a promise made by AAI to air travellers and Mobile ATC Tower is just the perfect synonym for doing so in a time-bound manner. It would have taken almost two years for any airport under UDAN to erect a full-fledged New ATC Tower. The Mobile ATC Tower is easily deployable as it can be swiftly transferred from one place to another.
Construction of a New ATC Tower infrastructure is costly, and it hinders the whole purpose of UDAN to provide flight service at a low price. Most of the airports built under UDAN serve only general aviation traffic and do not require an elaborate airside or fully developed Air Traffic infrastructure. So, a transportable ATC Unit, which is inclusive of CNS Systems, will help meet the Air Traffic Services (ATS) requirements in a cost-friendly manner. The Mobile ATC Tower is specifically designed for rapid and simple deployment to be used in remote locations and Forward Operating Bases (FOB).
Generally, Mobile ATC Towers are available in three configurations – Vehicle Mounted, Trailer Mounted and Container Mounted. The use of Vehicle Mounted is restricted to Defence Forces and that of Container Mounted to meet the requirements of particular airports. The Trailer Mounted Towers are the ones that are efficient enough to meet the operational requirement of UDAN Airports, which AAI has procured right now.
The Mobile ATC Towers are designed in a way that they can operate at any airport in India, enabling shipment by road on its own trailer. It can be deployed quickly and is easy to set up for operations. The Mobile ATC Towers at present are a top-class product available with latest technologies starting from construction to CNS/AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System) equipment used for ATC.