Gagan to boost air travel safety

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Air travel in India is getting safer and better with the GPS-aided Geo Augmented Navigation System (Gagan), a satellite-based facility to enhance safety and efficiency of aircraft operations, set to be installed in all airports across the country by June next year.

Gagan is a joint venture between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). Gagan would improve air traffic management through timely information on aircraft
movement, integration of meteorological data and aeronautical information, AAI Air Navigation Services member V. Somasundaram said after commissioning the Air Traffic Signal Automation at the Trichy airport.

The pilots will directly receive details from satellites. “India will be the fourth country after the US, Japan and European Consortium to have Gagan, which minimises or eliminates human intervention in the air traffic control and plane cockpit,” he said.

The system would enhance safety and efficiency of aircraft operations through better situational awareness and safety tools for the ATCs, he said.

AAI had installed ground reference stations in 15 strategic locations across the country and all airports would be networked through them.

The national Gagan centre would be located in Bangalore. Apart from air navigation applications, Somasundaram said, Gagan would also be useful to other service providers such as Indian Railways and the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Navy and Indian Coast Guard could also use the facility, he said. AAI would install Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), a cost-effective surveillance technology in 14 airports in the country by July this year, to upgrade air traffic management sector, Somasundaram said.

“We are constantly upgrading our technologies. ADS-B, which helps in tracking aircraft as part of next generation air transportation system will be useful as a supplementary devise especially when the radar fails or withdrawn for some reason,” he said.

Chennai airport set to have modern gate

Chennai airport authorities would soon open a new gate on par with other metro terminals in the country with security being a concern for some time. Modern gadgets such as bollards, under vehicle search systems and tyre killers that are available at airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad are also expected to be in place in Chennai.

The new gate will be operationalised along with the opening of the new domestic terminal and will be christened gate number one to take the place of the gate that was closed at the airport to facilitate expansion work.

Airport sources said the new gate will be equipped with various vehicle checking systems. “A proper vehicle checking platform will be available. It will also have baggage screening equipment such as doorframe metal detectors, hand held metal detectors and explosives detector,” sources said.

The vehicle checking platform will help examine the roof of the vehicles, while the bottom of the vehicles would be checked using a separate gadget with a mirror. The city airport has recently witnessed two incidents that highlighted serious security lapses. Smugglers were able to bypass security at different gates to smuggle contraband substance and foreign currency into the sterile area of the airport.

Officials expect a quicker strengthening of the security systems at the terminals with H.S. Suresh taking charge as the airport director in Chennai on Monday.

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