Air Costa on Saturday the 19th, received its third Embraer E190 at Ammam, Jordan. The aircraft’s original lessor is GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), and the aircraft previously flew for Saudi’s Flynas. The aircraft is one of two E190s earlier destined for another southern regional yet-to-start airline in India. Both airplanes, MSN 217 and MSN 233 have now been leased by Air Costa. Both aircraft are aged 7 years, and configured with 110 seats in a single class.
The first aircraft, which will be registered VT-LPB, is expected to tomorrow (21st December) fly into Delhi. Air Costa presently operates two E190s, MSN 593 and MSN 608, which are the E190 STD variant. The ones from Flynas are the E190 LR variant, which have a maximum take-off weight that is 2,500 kg heavier, allowing it up to 900 km (500 nautical miles) longer range when compared to the E190 STD, when flying with a load of 100 passengers.
The first of the two E190STD aircraft is expected to enter service on the 26th of December, 2015. On the 25th, Air Costa’s E190STD VT-LVR (MSN 608) will fly out to Jordan for scheduled heavy maintenance. The maintenance-bound aircraft will operate a special Chennai-Bengaluru flight LB712, before proceeding to Jordan. The active fleet at the airline will remain at 3 aircraft, until VT-LVR returns from maintenance, to take the fleet to 4 active aircraft. In November, the airline returned one of its 67 seat E170s (VT-LSR / MSN 278), which took the active fleet down to 3 aircraft. The other E170’s (VT-LNR / MSN 293) lease contract was extended by another nine months. The third E190 will therefore result in no net additions to Air Costa’s fleet size.
Activities such as return of aircraft, and scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of aircraft have led to numerous flight cancellations that threaten profitability in the peak season. Air Costa had last year reported a modest profit in the month of December. Fuel prices have fallen, since then.
Air Costa recently received a no objection from the Ministry towards securing a pan India air operator permit (AOP). According to news sources, Air Costa plans to induct the fourth E190 in February 2016, and commence pan India operations in April 2016. By then, the airline will have a fleet of 5 active aircraft. The airline completes 30 months of operations in March 2016.
Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into Cochin from Delhi on Indian Air Force One, operated by an Indian Air Force Boeing 737-700 Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) with tail number K5014. The way in which the airplane was flown was interesting, and different from the way in which a similar aircraft operating for a scheduled airline is flown. We compare the way in which the military 737 was flown, with the way in which a commercial 737-800 was flown on the same route.
The 737-700BBJ’s lateral flight path is compared with the lateral flight path of a Boeing 737-800 VT-SZA operated by SpiceJet today on Delhi-Cochin as SG 561. What stands out is that the flight path of the military 737 is curvy, and not straight unlike the SpiceJet 737, strongly indicating that the flight was manually controlled, either by being hand flown throughout or by manual heading inputs to the autopilot. It does point to neither the autopilot’s VOR/LOC function, nor the FMS-controlled lateral navigation being used.
The vertical flight path shows that the Prime Minister’s flight (image on the left shows Him beside the 737 at Cochin) was not optimized for fuel burn. The aircraft climbed to 31,000ft (odd level altitude) when headed in the easterly direction, and as it changed direction over Hyderabad to a westerly direction, the aircraft descended to 30,000ft (even altitude). A BBJ, usually being light, can fly much higher than 31,000ft. The optimum altitude for an airplane gets higher as it gets lighter, and it could have step climbed rather than step-descended over Hyderabad.
The SpiceJet 737, in contrast, flew at 37,000ft till over Hyderabad. By then, the airplane was lighter, having burnt most of the flight’s trip fuel. Over Hyderabad, when turning towards Cochin, it step climbed to 38,000ft – just as one would expect for optimal fuel burn.
A valid argument would be the winds at altitudes that could have impacted the military 737’s decision to fly at a lower altitude. The SpiceJet flight and the military 737 flight were 5 hours apart. However, IndiGo’s VT-IEM operating 6E 289 DEL-COK took off just 28 minutes after the Air Force 737, climbed to 35,000ft and then to 36,000ft over Hyderabad. IndiGo’s aircraft in fact picked up 13 minutes enroute, to land just about 15 minutes after the Air Force 737, clearly showing that winds at higher altitude were not unfavourable.
The intent of this piece isn’t to highlight who flies better, but rather to appreciate some of the differences between air transport flights in the military and in the commercial world. Vastly different priorities may explain the differences in flying. In the airline world though, it is all about minimising costs at every little opportunity.
IndiGo will launch a direct daily flight between Delhi and Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) on 7th January 2016, making it the longest domestic direct daily flight to be presently offered in India, with a block time of 3:15 hours.
6E 533 will fly DEL-TRV effective 7th January 2016, and 6E352 will fly TRV-DEL effective 8th January 2016.
No other operator offers direct flights between the two cities.
The flight will cover a great circle distance of 1201 nautical miles (NM) or 2,224 km.
Presently, the longest direct daily domestic flight in India is between Mumbai and Guwahati, operated only by IndiGo, with a great circle distance of 1,119 NM and a block time of 3:00 hrs from BOM-GAU, and 3:30hrs from GAU-BOM. The 30 minute difference is due to headwinds when flying from Guwahati to Mumbai, which serve as tailwinds when flying from Mumbai to Guwahati.
Thanks to Ameya: The longest domestic flight is Port Blair – Delhi (1,339 NM) operated by Air India regional on their CRJ 700s on Fridays and Sundays.
The Delhi <> Goa sectors, and the Delhi <> Guwahati sectors will get an additional frequency. The new sector that the airline is expected to operate is Delhi- Vishakhapatnam. Delhi to Vishakhapatnam will depart at 6:05 am as I52551, and will depart Vishakhapatnam at 8:35.
The total number of flights on the Delhi<>Goa sector goes upto thrice daily, and the number on Delhi<>Guwahati goes upto twice daily, from November 17th.
However, the airline now has two flights to Goa from Delhi (and back) spaced just 45 minutes apart, which may lead to cannibalization, pronounced during the off-peak seasons.
The new Delhi – Guwahati flight gives a Delhi passenger the option of a meaningful day return on the same airline.
One of the three aircraft patterns is expected to be dedicated to these new route and frequencies. Aircraft operating the pattern will fly DEL-VTZ-DEL-GOI-DEL-GAU-DEL, accumulating a block time of 14:45 hrs.
With the addition of the new aircraft and the related routes, the airline will increase capacity (measured in available seat kilometres) by 24% over the existing network, and will increase seat capacity by 17% to 7,200 daily seats. Daily flights will increase to 40 from the present 34.
Unlike in the summer peak season when the airline had two airplanes on ground for nearly two months, and incurred setup costs associated with the opening of four new stations (Delhi, Guwahati, Vishakhapatnam, Imphal) the airline in the winter peak season is not opening any new stations, thereby incurring no one time costs related to the network.
Presently, the airline is only selling the new DEL-GOI-DEL and DEL-GAU-DEL flights. The DEL-VTZ-DEL flights are yet to be announced and opened for sale.
AirAsia India, which has been slow in its growth owing to a primarily domestic-international network strategy that was thwarted by the unreasonable delay in lifting the 5/20 rule (a rule requiring an airline to fly international only after flying domestic for 5 years, and a minimum fleet size of 20 airplanes), received its 6th aircraft at Hyderabad’s Shamshabad airport at the MAS-GMR MRO facility.
The aircraft, bearing MSN 4346, previously flew for Indonesia AirAsia as PK-AXL. It is a non-winglet airplane, and is 5 years 4 months old.
It has now been re-registered to VT-APJ, as a tribute to late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
This is AirAsia India’s third non-winglet airplane. This is also the fourth airplane to be dedicated to a person (living and dead) or a place. The other three are VT-ATF (Tony Fernandes), VT-JRT (JRD Tata) and VT-BLR (Bengaluru).
This is perhaps the last airplane the airline will induct in this calendar year – something we had mentioned earlier.
With this, AirAsia India will be adding capacity during the winter peak season. The airline may start operating new sectors or additional frequencies only towards mid-late November 2015.
Due to the late announcement of routes, some of the lowest airfares may be found on AirAsia’s network. While this is good for passengers, it may adversely impact the airline’s unit revenues.
The airline has however started offering via flights – Passengers from Delhi can fly to Imphal via Guwahati, something which the airline did not offer earlier. Via flights will help improve revenues at the airline – something we had mentioned earlier.
While total costs in the airline will rise with the induction of the 6th aircraft, unit costs are expected to slightly fall, which is good for the airline.
The 6th aircraft may be based at Delhi, and may connect the national capital to Visakhapatnam, among other frequency/route additions.
One of AirAsia India’s aircraft utilisation has increased to one of the highest in the country.
1 millionth passenger expected to be flown around August 5th.
Typical turn around time: 25 -30 minutes.
The airline, which started operations one year ago on June 12th, 2014, now operates a fleet of 5 aircraft from 2 hubs – Bangalore and Delhi. All of the airline’s present flights from Delhi are no less than 2 hours 20 minutes long. Such long flights ensure that the airplanes spend a larger fraction of the flight in air, resulting in higher aircraft utilisation.
One of the airline’s 5 aircraft rotations flies only 2:30hr flights. This rotation covers a Delhi-Bangalore return, and two Delhi-Goa returns. Together, the utilisation on this pattern totals to 15:10 hrs, which is 50 minutes short of the target that the airline had made public, but one of the highest in the country for all domestic operations.
Average utilisation is however at 12:19 hrs, and the minimum utilisation is 11:00hrs. The average turn-around time at the airline is 36 minutes, a figure that is 16 minutes higher than the target of 20 minutes. However, turn around periods of 25 minutes and 30 minutes account for 70% of all turnarounds. There are no turnarounds of 20 minutes. Refer graph below.
The airline recently added Imphal as a destination, raising the number of destinations to 10. The airline today flies 32 flights a day, deploying 5,760 seats a day and flying around 4,500 passengers daily. Till end May 2015, the airline had flown 716,000 passengers. The airline may fly its 1 millionth passenger on or around the 5th of August 2015.
The airline may add a third Cochin flight in the morning, to provide a well spread out thrice daily service to Cochin from Bangalore. When added, all airplanes will be flying at near maximum utilisation in their rotations. No further growth is possible with the existing fleet.
Aircraft between hubs may be swapped through the night flight I52227 DEL-BLR and I52228 BLR-DEL. Two rotations sync up at the right times to allow for a swap. Until a third Cochin is launched, the airline may use the morning flight I52221 DEL-BLR to swap airplanes.
Ideally, considering that Delhi base has higher aircraft utilisation, the airline may realise a higher fuel saving by deploying two winglet-equipped aircraft at Delhi rather than just one as is the case today. Winglets help realise greater savings on longer flights.
According to the AirAsia Group, AirAsia India, “Overall performance was better than expected with strong loads but is working on keeping costs under check.”
AirAsia India announced today Delhi as its second hub, after Bangalore. Delhi will also serve as a base for the airline, while Bangalore will remain the home base.
Assuming that the airline will start flying between Bangalore and Delhi, the airline will for the first time begin flying on a Category I (Cat I) route, as defined by the prevalent route dispersal guidelines (RDG). Flying on a Cat I route will now oblige the airline to deploy a minimum percentage of the Cat I route capacity on Category II, IIA and III routes. Capacity is measured on an available seat kilometer (ASKM) basis. Every 180 seat flight between Bangalore and Delhi adds approximately 3,42,000 ASKM.
This makes the choice of Delhi as a base very important.
The importance of Delhi
Category II (Cat II) routes are routes which were traditionally looked upon as ‘loss making’ routes. These are routes that connect the mainland to the ‘neglected’ north-east, far north, and the islands that make up Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. (Please note that ‘neglected’ is a harsh word, but that’s how the ministry looks upon these regions as far as air connectivity is concerned). 10% of the Cat I capacity must be deployed on Cat II routes (To be soon revised to 20%). Had AirAsia India flown to Port Blair from Chennai or Bangalore, this requirement could have easily been met. AirAsia’s Airbus A320s cannot operate into and out of Agatti’s short strip.
Category IIA (Cat IIA) routes are routes which connect airports within a ‘neglected’ region. Examples are Jammu-Srinagar, and Guwahati-Bagdogra. Unfortunately, the southern portion of India – where AirAsia India is based- has no such Cat IIA routes. 1% of the Cat I capacity must be deployed on Cat II routes (to be soon revised to 1.5%)
To cater to a Cat I route and Cat II & IIA routes, the northern part of India is a wiser hub.
All the routes AirAsia India flies today are Cat III routes, as per prevalent RDGs.
Establish the route
By having a hub at Delhi, AirAsia India can fly early morning flights from Delhi to Bangalore, which can be mirrored by early morning Bangalore – Delhi flights. Similar flights from either destinations may be flown in the evening. This requires one A320 to be based at Delhi, to start with.
If such a strategy is followed, each aircraft will fly a minimum of 2 flights on the Bangalore – Delhi/vv route. Each flight is planned for 2:45 hrs, which will total upto 5:30 hours of utilisation per aircraft on this city-pair, leaving a maximum of around 7hrs of utilisation for other stations.
We feel that the airline may fly a 3x Bangalore-Delhi one way, per day, of which at least 2 shall be direct flights.
Flights to Delhi are not expected before May 2015, and perhaps not before mid-May 2015.
Deploy Cat II & IIA capacity.
Flights between Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar or Delhi-Guwahati-Bagdogra or Delhi-Guwahati-Agartala may be flown for Cat II and Cat IIA capacity. Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar seems to be the most likely set of cities to be flown first.
If the airline is innovative enough, it may make the most of its patterns to fly underserved routes. I am obliged to not exercise my creativity in suggesting routes.
Open Vishakhapatnam as a destination
AirAsia India presently flies three aircraft, and one of the three patterns flown everyday has a poor utilisation of just 7:50 hrs (see above). It is in this pattern – the third pattern, that two flights to Vishakhapatnam may easily fit in (as published in the DGCA’s Summer Schedule), with perhaps slight schedule changes.
The necessity – 5th aircraft
Opening the Delhi-Bangalore route will require two additional aircraft: one based at Bangalore, and the other at Delhi.
Further, as per CAR Sec 3 AT series C Part II, operators “will be given one year’s time from the date of securing operator’s permit, to have the fleet size of five aircraft”. AirAsia India secured its AOP on May 7th, 2015, and a 5th aircraft is necessary to meet regulatory requirements.
Today, at around 11:00hrs IST, AirAsia India’s 5th aircraft flew into Hyderabad from Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft is a used Malaysia AirAsia A320-216 (9M-AHU) without winglets, and is around 5.5 years old. The aircraft is AirAsia India’s second, non-winglet A320, after the 7 year old A320 which was unveiled to the public on 21st March in the JRD Tata livery (see image on top). Both aircraft are yet to start flying commercially for the airline.
The first three aircraft have winglets. If the airline is prudent with its fuel burn, only the winglet equipped aircraft (VT-RED/ATF/ATB) will be deployed on the BLR-DEL vv route.
Thank you to @ATCBLR on Twitter for posting the 5th aircraft’s arrival.
Marked shift in strategy
Last year, Mittu Chandilya, CEO AirAsia India had announced Goa as the second hub, with the induction of the 4th aircraft. He had also mentioned that the airline will keep off Delhi and Mumbai.
The airline last operated flights on the Bangalore – Chennai route on 31st March 2015.
Air Vistara, the newest Indian airline working towards an AOP, conducted its first two proving flights on 4th and 5th December, 2014, as officially confirmed by the airline. The first flight took off from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 22:10IST (16:40UTC) on December 4th and landed at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 5 minutes past midnight (00:05IST/18:35UTC) on 5th December. The return flight took off at 01:10IST (19:40UTC) and landed at Delhi at around 02:50IST (21:21UTC).
Proving flights are the last stage of a lengthy process involved in securing an Air Operator Permit (AOP). Considering that the proving flights may wrap up by 7th December, the AOP may be awarded on 15th December, after the completion of the FAA Audit of DGCA, which is hoped to be completed on the 12th December 2014. The airline may start operations early January.
When operations start, it will be the first full service carrier to be launched in a decade. Kingfisher airlines commenced operations in 2005 and no full service, pan-India carrier has since been launched.
The airline was awarded its NOC from the aviation ministry on the 3rd of April, 2014, and applied for an AOP on the 22nd of April, 2014. The eight month period between AOP application and approval is similar to the period taken to award AirAsia India’s AOP.
Vistara has two Airbus A320-232SL aircraft (A320/IAE V2527-A5 engines/Sharklet equipped) in its fleet, of which one is completed in the airline’s livery. The liveried aircraft performed the proving flight.
The airline plans to have six flights between Delhi and Mumbai in the first year of operations. Other destinations planned in the first year of services are Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Srinagar, Jammu, Patna and Chandigarh. The DGCA’s Civil Aviation Policy CAP 3100 stipulates that the airline ‘will be required to conduct a minimum of 5 flight sectors on intended routes, with total duration of not less than 10 flight hours’. The Delhi – Mumbai route contributes to around 1hr 40 minutes one way, adding to 3:20hrs for both ways. The airline will have to fly another 6:40hrs. Should the airline fly Delhi-Bangalore and back, it will add around 4:40hrs. The balance 2:00hrs may be picked up by flying either to Ahmedabad or Patna and back.
The liveried aircraft, registered VT-TTB, is the first aircraft that the airline received on the 24th of September, 2014, at Toulouse. The second aircraft, registered VT-TTC, was handed over to the airline five days later, on the 29th of September, 2014. The first aircraft got its livery at Singapore, and landed back at Delhi on the 15th of October, 2014, coinciding with the 82nd anniversary of JRD Tata’s first commercial flight from Karachi to Mumbai.
Three other aircraft, registered VT-TTD, TTE, and TTF are at Toulouse, reportedly not delivered in the light of the uncertainty associated with the DGCA’s delay in granting the new airline company its Air Operator’s Permit. The fifth aircraft recently flew to Hamburg, Germany, where the cabin interiors are fitted.
The airline plans to have a fleet of current engine option (CEO) and new engine option (NEO) A320 aircraft. The first 20 Airbus aircraft are to be leased from BOC Aviation – a Bank of China company that has its origins in Singapore Airlines. The duration of the lease agreement is six years for the A320-200 CEO aircraft and twelve years for the A320-200NEO aircraft.
This piece clears the air over a possibly misleading media report in Business Today (BT), “DGCA plans to shut doors on low fuel landings”. The DGCA is right.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) is known to witness severe fog in winter, which is responsible for a significant number of flight diversions. In the winter of 2011, there were 57 diversions, which steadily grew to 89 in 2012, and 143 in 2013: a 60% yearly growth over the last three years.
To address these now unacceptable number of diversions in winter, the DGCA setup a committee in January 2014 to study the ways in which Delhi may be made a “zero diversionary airport”. The committee concluded the study with a report that included 27 recommendations, one of which was not well understood. Recommendation number 13 states, “AIP shall be amended to indicate that the term fuel emergency would not be recognised at Indian aerodromes.” That recommendation is valid, but was misunderstood by a section of the media.
Further, the BT report stated “DGCA justifies move by saying that airlines are expected to carry at least 1.5 times more fuel than what it actually requires during a flight but they generally carry less fuel.” This too shall be clarified.
An airplane is always expected to land with an amount of fuel in the tanks that is above a minimum quantity commonly referred to as “final reserve fuel”. When in flight, if the fuel quantity in the tanks dips below the reserve fuel quantity, the airplane is deemed to be in an emergency. This reserve fuel is the fuel required to fly at 1,500ft above the destination airport, for 30 minutes. For the Boeing 737-800, at typical loads, this is around 1,200kg. Larger airplanes, which consume more fuel in 30 minutes, consequently have a larger weight of fuel as reserve.
Until recently, there was no recommended standard phraseology to be used when the flight crew determined that the aircraft will infringe upon its final fuel reserves before landing. There were two widely used phrases: “Minimum Fuel”, and “Emergency Fuel”. Minimum fuel is an advisory to Air Traffic Control that should there be further delay for landing, the airplane will start eating into the reserve fuel. “Emergency Fuel” was a declaration of emergency, that the airplane has started eating into the reserve fuel. However, the interpretation of this term has been varied, with the FAA recognizing it as “The point at which, in the judgment of the pilot-in-command, it is necessary to proceed directly to the airport of intended landing due to low fuel.” Low fuel does not necessarily mean the final reserve fuel, and is a very subjective quantity.
Unfortunately, a declaration of “Emergency Fuel” would require Air Traffic Control to award the airplane priority. Priority is defined as no further delay into getting the airplane to land. This was reportedly abused by some airlines, including India’s only consistently profitable airline, to ensure that the airplane lands without burning further fuel. That is money saved.
India is a member of the United Nations (UN). The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is a UN Agency. ICAO works with member states, and industries and aviation organizations to develop international Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) which are then used by states when they develop their legally-binding national civil aviation regulations (CARs). The SARPs ensure uniform best practices, and safe, efficient , and secure flights through commonly understood standards.
Effective 15th November 2012, ICAO has amended ICAO Annex 6 Part I, to include:
“The pilot-in-command shall advise ATC of a minimum fuel state by declaring MINIMUM FUEL when, having committed to land at a specific aerodrome, the pilot calculates that any change to the existing clearance to that aerodrome may result in landing with less than planned final reserve fuel.”
“The pilot-in-command shall declare a situation of fuel emergency by broadcasting MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY,FUEL, when the calculated usable fuel predicted to be available upon landing at the nearest aerodrome where a safe landing can be made is less than the planned final reserve fuel.”
As a result, henceforth, ’Fuel Emergency’ or ‘fuel priority’ are not recognised terms. India not recognizing these two terms only aligns the country with ICAO standards, helping the country get out of safety audit downgrades.
Further, “Minimum Fuel” is only an advice to ATC, requiring no action by ATC, but “ MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY,FUEL” is a declaration of an emergency, in which the ATC must assist the airplane in landing as soon as possible.
DGCA, in its Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) that covers “Operation of Commercial Air Transport Aeroplanes”, states:
“A flight shall not be commenced unless, taking into account both the meteorological conditions and any delays that are expected in flight, the aeroplane carries sufficient fuel and oil to ensure that it can safely complete the flight. In addition, a reserve shall be carried to provide for contingencies.”
In accordance with the CAR, the airplane must at minimum carry the following fuel, for a flight from Bangalore to Delhi (1000NM), with 180 passengers on a Boeing 737-800W, with an assumption of no cargo. Quantities are derived from the airplane flight manuals and typical airline practices.
The fuel required to taxi from the gate to the runway.
The required fuel quantity from initiating take-off to the landing at the destination airport.
Typically 5% of the Trip fuel, but can be as high as 10%. caters to unforeseen circumstances or prediction errors.
The fuel required to execute a missed approach at Delhi and fly to an alternate airport (Jaipur in this case), in case landing at Delhi is not possible, due to issues like visibility.
Final Reserve Fuel
The final reserve fuel is the minimum fuel required to fly for 30 minutes at 1,500 feet above the alternate airport.
Based on statistically derived data at the airline, and also at the discretion of the Captain (based on his judgement and reports of a congested airport, or bad weather, or the like.) Assumed Zero for this example.
The sum of the fuels 1 – 6, which must be uplifted at the departure airport.
If the flight goes as planned, the aircraft should consume only the trip fuel, which amounts to 6,000kg. But the aircraft is filled with 9,000 kg of fuel, which is 1.5 times that of the trip fuel.
One of longest domestic flights into Delhi is from Bangalore, the others being from Chennai and Cochin. As flights get longer, the total fuel will fall below 1.5 times the trip fuel. As flights get shorter, the total fuel will amount to greater than 1.5 times the trip fuel. Since the Bangalore – Delhi flight is one of the longest domestic flights into Delhi, BT’s “DGCA officials” were not off the mark with a ballpark 1.5 figure, but that is a number that is written nowhere, must never be used for planning, and should not have been quoted in the first place. The Mumbai-Delhi sector (which is shorter) will consume only 4,000kg of fuel, but will need to legally carry a minimum of 6,900kg of fuel, which is 1.7 times the trip fuel.
1. The DGCA’s recommendation is not “highly controversial”, as reported by BT. The ambiguous term “fuel emergency” is not recognized and is replaced by standard phraseologies as described above. Flight safety is not compromised but rather improved.
2. DGCA cannot “shut doors” on low fuel landings, as reported. That means you can’t land if you’re low on fuel. What DGCA is doing is to ensure certain standard terminologies are used, doing away with old ones.
2. The laws are not ” draconian”, but progressive to keep up with ICAO standards.
3. A “1.5” figure is not justified, as it depends on many factors. However, if the DGCA official used it to throw a ball park ratio, he’s not off the mark. But later in the BT article is probably a typo which is misleading, “expected to carry at least 1.5 times more fuel“. It must read 1.5 times the trip fuel.
Edit: Added Cochin & Chennai to Delhi as other long flights into Delhi. Thanks to Cyril.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), Mumbai, (ICAO: VABB IATA: BOM) has something new to boast off, near Terminal 1B and 1A; specifically in the forecourt of the domestic terminal in Santacruz at the Terminal 1B parking area: a new Air Traffic Control tower that was inaugurated on the 18th of October, 2013, but is expected to be operational only by the end of 2013, or early 2014.
The 84-meter tower has been designed by global architectural firm HOK, Hong Kong. While the tower cab will be specifically designed to have a clear line of sight for Air Traffic Controller, providing a visibility of over 5 miles, the G+3 floors below will house infrastructure facilities supporting the tower.
With new systems installed, the new ATC Tower will ease air traffic congestion and increase the efficiency at CSIA, handling 46 flights per hour as against 40 being handled now. Plans are to further support movements of upto 48 per hour.
Once fully operational, the old tower, located very close to runway 14-32, will be demolished to complete the construction of taxiway E10. the new taxiway will help increase movements at the airport.
This tower, for now the tallest in India, will lose its height title to the new 102 meter tall ATC tower at Delhi’s Indra Gandhi International Airport (ICAO: VIDP IATA DEL), which is soon expected to be commissioned. The Delhi ATC tower has been designed by the same architectural firm that designed the ATC at Mumbai, and the extended Terminal 1 at Bangalore International Airport: HOK.
IndiGo’s parent company, Interglobe Enterprises, and CAE-Airbus had “broken ground" in the November of 2011 to establish a new pilot and maintenance technician training centre in Delhi. The new centre, located specifically in the Greater Noida Industrial Area, about 40 kilometers southeast of Delhi, is not for the exclusive use of IndiGo airlines, but rather for airlines in India and the neighbouring region.
The focus of the new Delhi training centre will be to provide “wet" and “dry" type-rating, recurrent, conversion and jet indoctrination training for commercial aircraft pilots. Programs will also be offered for maintenance technicians. The Delhi training centre was planned to initially house four full-flight simulators and was planned to accommodate eight simulator bays. Training technology such as CAE Simfinity multimedia classrooms, computer-based training and brief/debrief facilities are used.
Although planned to house 8 full flight simulator bays, the new centre has only 6 full flight simulator bays, with which it plans to “train 5000 professionals per year". The Full Flight Simulator facility at Bangalore has 3 simulator bays (Two A320 and one B737NG), with the capacity to train 1500 crew members annually. This figure boils down to 500 crew members per FFS per year, leading the Delhi centre to train a maximum of 3000 crewmembers annually.
Of the six simulator bays, only 2 are occupied, at the moment, by two CAE Series 7000 A320s level D simulators, which can handle a maximum of 1000 crew members, annually, until more simulators are added.
This simulator facility marks CAE’s 5th training centre in India, after the CAE FFS centre and CAE “Hatsoff" Helicopter Simulator facility at Bangalore, Praful Patel’s flight school: National Flying Training Institute NFTI bat Gondia, in which CAE has 49% stake, and IGRUA, which is doled out a step-motherly treatment by CAE considering its low stake and low control over operations at the premier flight institute in India.
This new facility at Delhi has begun operations 2 months after Airbus and CAE concluded their training services cooperation, which was done to provide “more flexibility for both companies to serve their respective stakeholders directly". Airbus assures that “There will be no impact on any airline customers training with Airbus or with CAE following the conclusion of the existing cooperation agreement."
The new simulator facility takes the total fixed wing Full Flight Simulator count, in India, to 13, comprising of eight A320, four B737NG, two B777, one B747, one B787, and one A330. These simulators are spread out across India, at CAE Bangalore (2 A320, 1 B737NG), CTE Hyderabad (3 A320), FSTC Delhi (1 A320, 1 B737NG), Jet Airways Mumbai (2 B737NG, 1 A330, 1 B777), and Air India Mumbai (1 B737NG, 1 B747, 1 B777, 1 B787).
The new centre takes CAE’s total to about 70 Airbus full-flight simulators in more than 20 locations worldwide. CAE operates the largest network of Airbus simulators.
Make My Trip’s Challenge. Unfortunately, they couldn’t offer the lowest, as they promise.
TheFlyingEngineer Update: A kind Spicejet FO pointed me out to Akbar Travels, which offer truly low airfares! Please do check out the last screenshot right at the bottom of this short article. Akbar travels’ low airfares, which are the lowest for all airlines and all flights that I searched for Mar 30 2013, are definitely worth a note!
MakeMy Trip dot com is strong in its advertising. It claims to bring you the cheapest fares, if not, it will pay you double the difference in fare. I wanted to see which method, and which site got me the cheapest of tickets. (and see the screenshots below: MakMyTrip couldn’t stand up to their own test).
I tried these five sites: Indigo, Spicejet, MakeMyTrip, Ixigo, Goibibo and Cleartrip. Why these six? The first two to see how much the “Major Low Cost" airlines charge, and the last four as these are very “well branded".
I set my departure date as 30th March, 2013, for a one-way flight from Delhi to Bangalore. Cheapest was my only criteria, not the flight time, time of flight, or OTPs, and I relied on the airline / website to filter my results as lowest fare first.
Here are what you should know:
1. The flight fare of Indigo and Spicejet are the same, for the date in consideration in this case.
2. Indigo charges INR 100 as “Covenience Fee" per passenger when booking through their website. Spicejet charges none, making a Spicejet ticket cheaper (in the event that both competitor’s fare prices pre-“convenience fees” are the same)
3. MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, Ixigo/Arzoo*, and Goibibo charge a convenience fee of INR 125 per passenger. So if you’re booking a ticket early, through any of these sites, then you’ll stand to lose INR 25 when booking an Indigo flight, and INR 125 when booking a Spicejet flight!
4. Arzoo did the best job. *Now, a search on Ixibo led me to Arzoo, and Arzoo gave me by far the cheapest flight: Spicejet, INR 4017. With the “Conveninece fee" of INR 125, this came up to 4,142, which is still a good INR 1,068 cheaper than the lowest you can expect from Indigo!
Look at all my screenshots below. Read the captions carefully. So when booking a flight, search everywhere, and know that those “promise-you-the-lowest” sites may actually prove to be costlier than the airline’s parent site! Moral: Search well before buying.
As for MakeMyTrip, I wonder what they now have to say about the “lowest airfare challenge": Here’s proof that they’re not always the lowest!
Indigo’s airfare, which is priced the same as Spicejet’s, is costlier by INR 100 when booking through their website, due to the “convenience fee” that they charge.
Spicejet’s fares are priced as much as Indigo’s, but the convenience fee of INR 100 isn’t charged. This makes their fare the lower than the competition’s.
The Best Make My Trip could get me (from Indigo and Spicejet) was INR 5110, INR 1 costlier than Go Air’s fare. But add their convenience fee of INR 125, and you have INR 5235 to shell out. Even if you would have purchased Spicejet’s you’d have to pay the same: this is what all the websites charge: INR 125 on domestic!
ClearTrip couldn’t do any better than the other sites.
Ready to pay! NO, I didn’t purchase the ticket!
I don’t know how Ixigo managed it, but they had the lowest of all fares! INR 4017 + INR 125 Convenience fee = INR 4142. Compare this with Make My trip’s lowest. (below)
Make My Trip’s lowest could not beat Ixigo’s. Wonder what I can do to benefit from the lost challenge!
GoIbibo didn’t do any better than the others.
Akbar Travels, which was brought to my notice today, had the lowest steady airfares on offer!
Change in aviation is met with heavy resistance, and even a ten year old technology is considered relatively new. With the introduction of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) in the Indian Airspace, confusion still exists on RNAV (aRea NAVigation), RNP (Required Navigation Performance), and where this RNAV/RNP are implemented in the Indian ATS.
Waypoint LATID, seen as referenced to Bangalore International Airport’s VOR (BIA). LATID = BIA/012deg/77NM or N14 28.6 E077 56.9
The basic airway system (in India and the world over) was constructed based on sensors: the VOR and the NDB stations and receivers on board the airplane, which provide the capability to fly to, or from a radio station along one of its “radials". These radio stations are scattered, purposely, across the country, and the airway system is constructed by simply “connecting the dots", and an aircraft’s position is always relative to one of these stations. Example: Waypoint LATID is 77NM from Bangalore International Airport’s VOR (BIA), on a radial of 012°of BIA.
When an aircraft’s navigation system has a little more intelligence: the ability to scan and receive signals from multiple such radio ground stations, or from self contained navigation aids, such as the Inertial Reference System (IRS), or from the globally available GPS satellite constellation, and determine the aircraft’s position in terms of the World Geodesic System 1984 (WGS-84) coordinates, it provides the ability to determine the aircraft’s absolute position, rather than referencing it to a sparse set of radio stations. Example: Waypoint LATID is N14° 28.6’ E077° 56.9’.
The advantage with absolute position is freedom in the lateral: an aircraft can determine its absolute position, and fly to another waypoint whose absolute position is known, without having to stick to a “radial" or a VOR station. The ability to fly “Direct-To" another waypoint from the present position offers an easily comprehendible advantage: fuel savings through shorter, more direct routes. This freedom in the lateral, and the ability to navigate freely in an area, gives rise to RNAV, or Area Navigation.
Indian airspace is comprised mostly of “W" routes, which are, as per AAI, exclusively available for domestic operators only. According to ICAO Annex 11, a “W" route is NOT an Area Navigation Route, which means, the airway is constructed with reference to ground radio beacons, and are mostly direct from one beacon to another.
The other airways in India are “A", “B", “G", “L", “M", “N", “P", “Q", “R", “UL", “UM". Of these, “L", “M", “N", “P" and “Q" are area navigation routes. This means that these routes are not constrained to fly between ground based radio stations, but are instead optimised, more direct routes that save fuel. The “Q" routes were recently introduced in 2012, in July.
Since flying these routes implies a reliance on the aircraft’s complex navigation system (which authorities have no operational control of) rather than the simpler ground referenced navigation system (which authorities maintain), it is imperative that in the interest of safety, the complex area navigation system be capable of a certain navigation accuracy, also termed the navigation performance.
Certain routes, and certain procedures may require a higher navigation accuracy and its associated certainty, while others may be less demanding. To quantify these “higher and lesser" accuracies, the term “Required Navigation Performance" (RNP) was introduced, which stipulates the minimum navigational accuracy that must be guaranteed, with a certainty of 95% availability.
With RNP, of the many requirements, the aircraft must be capable of displaying the Actual Navigation Performance (ANP). As long as the actual navigation performance is within the limits of the RNP, everyone’s happy. But if the ANP gets worse than the RNP, that’s when Air Traffic Control must be notified so they can keep close eye on you and other airplanes in relation to your aircraft, and direct you based on conventional navigational practices.
The Area Navigation Routes – “L", “M", “N", “P" – are all RNP 10 in India. The newly introduced “Q" routes, are all RNP 5. This means that your aircraft’s navigation accuracy must be better than 5 NM if it is to fly along the newly introduced 7 “Q" routes: Q1 – Q7. If however the ANP of the aircraft is 5.5 NM, then the accuracy is not enough to fly the “Q" routes, but accurate enough to fly thee RNP 10 routes: “L", “M", “N", “P".
Q1, W13N, and a Direct route as shown between Mumbai (BBB) and Delhi (DPN) VORs
The benefits of the RNP routes are evident. The newly introduced “Q" routes connect Delhi to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, and Vadodra. Picking “Q1", which is Mumbai to Delhi (BBB- DPN), there are 13 waypoints in between the starting (BBB) VOR and the ending (DPN) VOR. Except for one, none of the other waypoints are ground based radio aids. The total ground distance between Mumbai and Delhi along Q1 is 633NM. The domestic non-RNAV “W13N" route between Mumbai and Delhi, has 5 waypoints in between, three of which are ground based radio aids (VOR). The ground distance along W13N is 653NM. A347, another non-RNAV route between Mumbai and Delhi, has 9 waypoints in between, three of which are ground based radio aids. The ground distance along A347 is 735NM. Compared to W13N and A347, Q1 saves 20NM and 102NM of ground distance, which translates to a saving of between 2 minutes and 14 minutes of flying time. A heavy Airbus A320, flying at FL350 at 76Tonnes, can save between 124 kg and 634 kg of fuel, which translates to a saving of between INR 11,000 and INR 56,227 per Mumbai-Delhi flight. Another advantage is the smooth flight path, as opposed to the zig-zag of non-RNAV routes.
Indigo’s 11 daily direct flights from Mumbai to the capital can save the airline about INR 1,21,000 per day, one way alone! Air India, with 12 direct flights, saves INR 1,32,000 one way, per day.
Aircraft with high navigation performance are allowed to fly the RNP routes. With higher accuracy, more airplanes can be squeezed on an airway. The “Q" routes allow aircraft to aircraft longitudinal separation of 50NM, while W13N allowed for a 10 minute separation, which translates to around 75NM. Theoretically, up to 13 airplanes may now fly on Q1, at any point of time, as compared to 9 on W13N. The capacity of the Indian Air Traffic System (ATS) has increased 44% on this route alone.
RNP and RNAV arrivals and departures are already in use, explained in another article which shall follow soon.