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VOBG slips to darkness. Image: Google Earth

VOBG slips to darkness. Image: Google Earth

HAL Airport “went dark” for a few days; GAGAN system goes operational; Aviation Ministry holds “CEO Exchange” discussion with airline and airframe representatives.

HAL Airport (ICAO: VOBG) had slipped into darkness for a few days. The airport, which belongs to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and formerly served as the domestic and international airport in addition to supporting HAL’s and other various DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation) arms’ test flights, did not support night operations.

A HAL official stated that there was an issue between Airport Authorities of India (AAI) and HAL, which resulted in the temporary “blackout” of night operations, for a “few days”. Runway lights, and apron lights were reportedly* not “available”. As a result, pilots, especially those operating charter and private jets, which usually use HAL airport as it is in the heart of the city, were forced to fly (and plan) to Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport (ICAO: VOBL, IATA: BLR) if their arrival or departure was after dusk or before dawn.

During that period, HAL airport was rendered a “Day IFR field” for a while. Had this HAL-AAI issue continued, it would have been a sad state of affairs (or the lack of it at night) for the airport that made Bangalore the “Aviation Capital of India”.

Such a move, temporary or permanent, is viewed as retrograde, especially when the country is looking forward to progressing aviation.

A “CEO Exchange” discussion was held at the aviation Ministry (MoCA), today, bringing together high level representatives from IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air Costa, Air India, Go Air, Blue Dart, Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and ATR, amongst others. The aim was to figure out ways to take aviation to the next level.

However, with the AAI taking actions that affect airfields such as HAL, and flight schools, such as Orient Flight School at Pondicherry, everyday aviation becomes more difficult for operators, and hoping for a step up to the next level is a challenge.

The more progressive face of AAI was seen when the GAGAN system, according to the General Manager, General Manager (CNS) heading the Ground Based Elements of the GAGAN Project at Bangalore, India, Mr. C R Sudhir, “has been put into operation on 14.02.14 at 1000 hrs IST to support RNP0.1 operations in en-route phase of flight over entire Indian Flight Information Region.”

This opens up GPS as a primary navigation aid for enroute navigation, allowing for more direct or shorter routes to be introduced in the Indian airspace. This saves fuel, may help increase aircraft utilization, and support higher air traffic density, which can boost passenger traffic if the savings are passed on to passengers. It also can give a boost General Aviation by allowing airplanes to fly lower on airways, as there no longer is a need for higher altitudes to receive land based radio navigation signals.

Mr. Sudhir also stated, “work is on to achieve APV 1/1.5 certification by fourth quarter of this year.”

*Source: Flight crew operating into HAL/ VOBG.