Agartala: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is to introduce a new radar-based air surveillance system at 14 airports across the country for better control of aircraft in flight, an official said.

"The new Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system would facilitate civilian aircraft in self-communicating with airports about their identity, speed and altitude," AAI director Sudhamay Maiti said.

"The new system is likely to be commissioned in six to seven of a total of 14 airports across India by the middle of this year and in the remaining airports by this year-end," he added.

According to the official, unlike the existing radar-based ground-to-air surveillance system on airports, the comparatively cheaper ADS-B system has three components -- an ADS-B transponder in the aircraft, an antenna to get frequency from the aircraft transponder and a receiver at the Air Traffic Control (ATC).

"The new technology enables ATCs at airports to get complete situational awareness of ADS-B compatible aircraft, which could even be 300 miles away," Maiti said.

The ADS-B system would cover much wider areas than the present surveillance system.

"The existing air surveillance system has certain limitations when it comes to airspace management," Maiti said, adding that safety aspects would also get a major boost once the new system is introduced.
The AAI official said that during the past few years, air traffic has increased in most of the airports in India with more domestic and foreign flights using Indian airspace and airports.

"Voice communication between the flights and the ATCs would be more easy and transparent with the new ADS-B system," Maiti added.

The administrative as well as technical process has already started to install the new system at 14 airports: Agartala, Imphal, Shimla, Jaipur, Bhopal, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Amritsar, Varanasi, Port Blair, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Calicut.

The AAI official said that around Rs. 4 crore would be spent at each of the airports to install the new system.

Meanwhile, the AAI has begun preliminary work to upgrade Agartala airport to an international airport to boost the northeastern region's connectivity with Southeast Asian countries.

"AAI has taken up an ambitious Rs. 6+80 crore project to gradually develop Agartala airport to international standards. Also, a modern Air Traffic Control tower is being set up at a cost of Rs. 10 crore," said another AAI official.

On an average, 32-33 aircraft operate every day through Agartala airport, connecting Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal, Silchar and the southern states.

"The decision to upgrade the Agartala airport was taken as part of the India's 'Look East' policy," the official added.

"As part of the plan, the terminal building, ATC tower, runway and other necessary infrastructure would be expanded and further strengthened," he said.

A Tripura government official said the AAI has sought 200 acres of land to build additional infrastructure. "However, there is scarcity of land in the existing airport area," he said.

(Agencies)