NEW DELHI: Jharkhand’s steel city Bokaro has become the first airport to get a mobile air traffic control (ATC) tower at its airport. The state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) has acquired eight trailer-mounted towers at a cost of Rs 64.6 crore from a Slovak company for being used at small airports for regional connectivity scheme (RCS) flights.
ude desh ke aag nagrik (UDAN or the subsidised regional flying scheme where fares are capped at Rs 2,500 per hour of flying) we will see a number of small airports getting one or two flights a day. In the past also we had used mobile ATC towers but now we are doing it in a systematic manner given the demand for RCS flights. It is better to use these mobile towers at small airports,” said AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra.
The mobile towers have been purchased from MSM Martin Company Slovakia, Slovak Republic. The first eight will be used at regional airports at Bilaspur, Ambikapur, Jagdalpur, Jeypore, Utkela, Vellore, Bokaro and Mithapur (Gujarat).
A senior AAI official said: “These mobile ATC towers have been developed keeping in mind Indian ATC requirements. Technically, these mobile towers are top class and allow operations in any airport in India, enabling shipment by road on own trailer and fast deployment and setting up for operation. Mobile tower provides latest technologies including communication, navigation and surveillance and automated weather observation system equipment used for ATC.”
These towers have a lifting system for elevation of tower cabin up to 8 metre from cabin rooftop. It is configured to operate with two to four operators without being removed from the trailer. “The AC cabin is made of aluminum and has windows with 360 degree vision, anti-reflective, with fittings for anti-fogging and de-icing, blast proof double glass windows,” the official said.
Prime Minister Modi flagged off the first UDAN flight last April with an Air India subsidiary ATR taking off from Shimla to Delhi. According to AAI, over 4.5 lakh people have flown under UDAN from April 27, 2017, to September 23, 2018. The number could have been much higher but for the dismal performance of Air Deccan and Air Odisha that bagged a lion’s share of RCS routes but have been unable to start flying majority of them.
The aviation ministry has now issued cancellation notice for routes where these airlines have not started flights and is soon going to call for bids under UDAN-III that could include more under-served and unserved airports. The mobile ATC towers will come in handy there.