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9 Dec 2016

Night landing boost for Bagdogra

TT, Siliguri, Dec. 8: Senior officials of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) today said the work of calibration of the Instrumental Landing System that has been installed at Bagdogra airport has started and by the month-end the mechanism was expected to become functional.
Initiation of the calibration process is about setting up the equipment of the ILS in precision by repeated checks by using an aircraft. It indicates the system that would help aircraft land in inclement weather and after sunset would soon be functional.
"Since yesterday, representatives of the company that has been assigned with the task of installing the ILS in Bagdogra have taken up the task of calibrating different component equipment of the system. They are using a seven-seat aircraft that has come from New Zealand and is fitted with all necessary equipment to carry out the task of calibration. We have learnt from the sources that the process would take a week, and then the ILS would be calibrated or set in precision," Rakesh Sahay, the airport director of Bagdogra said today.
In Bagdogra, which is a civilian enclave - the runway and the Air Traffic Control are managed by the Indian Air Force - the ILS has been installed under the Modernization of Airfield Infrastructure (MAFI) programme taken up by the IAF.
Back in 2011, the project, which involves modernising around 30 airfields across the country and costs around Rs 1,094 crore, was assigned to the Strategic Engineering Division of Tata Power Company Limited through global tender.
"Technical experts of the company have been working in Bagdogra for the past three to four months to install the ILS. The work is on schedule and we hope the system would be functional by the end of this month," Sahay said.
Once installed, the minimum required ground visibility for flights will come down to 350 metres from 2,100 metres that is needed now. In winters and the rainy season and also during evening hours, flights would be able to land and take off and incidents of cancellations or delay will come down.
AAI sources, when asked to elaborate on the calibration procedure, said during the exercise, functioning of all equipment such as a localiser and a glide path indicator, which helps flights align with the runway and gives horizontal guidance before landing. Added to it is the Approach Light System (also called ALS) along the runway.
"The aircraft that is used for calibration repeatedly lands and takes off to help in calibrating the equipment. Signals broadcast from the ATC via the ILS are constantly checked at the aircraft. Necessary instructions are relayed and equipment are set at precision. Trials are carried out several times in a day," the sources said.
Once the calibration is done, a report would be sent to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for approval. "After the approval, there will be some other formalities and soon, the system would be functional," they said.
Stakeholders of the tourism industry, who had to deal with flight cancellations in winters and rains every year, said they are eagerly waiting for the system.
"It is a major development and would improve air services in Bagdogra. As the system is likely to be operational by this month, we expect there will not be frequent cancellation of flights due to fog, as it happens in the winters," Samrat Sanyal, representative of a travel company and based in Siliguri, said.

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