Game Changer: GAGAN to enhance aviation safety

GAGAN to enhance aviation safety

The launch of the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system in May 2015 was a big leap for Indian aviation safety. It took 15 years of research to create GAGAN. Apart from this, several initiatives are being undertaken to improve air navigation services (ANS).

It is anticipated that there will be exponential air traffic growth in the coming decade, and it is imperative to focus on safety and efficiency. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) put in place the ANS strategy (2014-18) in December 2014. Under this strategy, ANS will be guided by principles such as enhanced safety, increased system capacity, optimised use of airport capacity, reduced delays, reduced flight operating costs, and reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

Indian Infrastructure takes a look at the various technologies deployed by AAI to improve aviation safety…

Improving air traffic control (ATC):  ATC stands on the four pillars of communication, navigation, surveillance and automation systems. The technologies available under each are given in the table.

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Improving navigation and shift to a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS): The current infrastructure to handle air traffic is maintained on the ground. Such systems have certain limitations including rigid flight routes, which lead to longer travel time, and in turn, more emissions. Given the growing air traffic, there is a need to pack a larger number of aircraft into a limited volume of airspace. Thus, the shift to a SBAS is required.

GAGAN, which is now fully operational, is a regional SBAS equipped with advanced air navigation technology aimed to provide seamless and precise aviation navigation services. It was jointly developed and implemented by the Indian Space Research Organisation and AAI at a cost of Rs 7.74 billion. India is thus the fourth region in the world to possess an SBAS, after the US, Europe and Japan. The technology offers improved accuracy and integrity, and the availability and continuity of aircraft navigation during all phases of flight.

AAI is upgrading its instrument landing systems (ILS) to CAT-III B at Jaipur, Lucknow, Amritsar and Kolkata airports.

Improving communication: AAI has procured 527 very high frequency (VHF) transmit-and-receive voice communication control systems (VCCS) for fast and reliable communication. The system has already been installed at Kolkata airport, while that in Delhi will be installed by April 2016. Further, 41 new digital voice recorders have been supplied and installed by AAI’s in-house communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) team. An automatic message handling system (AMHS) and an automatic message switching system (AMSS) have been installed at Mumbai and Delhi respectively.

Improving surveillance: AAI is increasing surveillance coverage to the entire Indian airspace either by providing radars, or automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) or both. ADS-B systems are being provided at airports handling significant or moderate traffic to enable more efficient handling of a greater number of aircraft. State-of-the-art-automation systems have been installed at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports. Ten new ADS-B systems will be installed at airports, to fill surveillance gaps.

Other initiatives include radar integration at Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai airports and the completion of upper airspace harmonisation at Kolkata and Chennai airports. Upper airspace harmonisation at Mumbai and Delhi airports will be taken up next.

AAI has installed new monopulse secondary surveillance radars (MSSRs) at nine airports – Chennai, Bellary, Bhopal, Porbander, Visakhapatnam, Jharsuguda, Katihar, Kolkata and Udaipur.  PSRs/MSSRs have been installed at Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Mumbai and Amritsar airports. Further, purchase orders have been issued for new PSRs/MSSRs at six airports. These systems will enhance surveillance capability and operational efficiency, leading to decongestion of airspace and minimising delays faced by aircraft.

Also, advance surface movement guidance and control systems (ASMGCS) have been installed at Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports. Further, ASMGCS installation is in progress at five airports – Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Amritsar and Guwahati.

Improving ground infrastructure: For increasing air safety, AAI has drawn up a plan for improving ground infrastructure, including runways, installation of radars, automated operation control centres (AOCCs) and closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) at various airports. During 2015, AAI installed a ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) at Chennai airport; 35 CCTVs at Mysore airport at an estimated cost of Rs 10 million; set up AOCCs at 10 airports including Tiruchirapalli, Guwahati and Ahmedabad; and constructed a new ATC tower at Mangaluru airport.

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Air traffic flow management: New air traffic flow management (ATFM) technical centres are being set up. Under Phase I, which is to be completed by June 2016, ATFM centres are being constructed at six airports. Subsequently, these will be extended to other airports. Under Phase II, regional ATFM integration with the centralised ATFM is envisaged.

Future air navigation system (FANS):  Developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the implementation of FANS will lead to reduced distance between airplanes; more efficient route changes; satellite communication; no altitude loss while crossing tracks; more direct routings; and reduced user charges for using the FANS infrastructure.

Based on a presentation by

P.K. Bandyopadhyay, Executive

Director, CNS Planning, AAI