Thursday, October 7, 2010

India Delays Selecting Provider Of Approach Surveillance Radars

Air Traffic Management

Aviation Daily Oct 07 , 2010 , p. 09
Neelam Mathews

Despite the need to improve an aging air traffic management system, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has delayed the selection of a company to set up eight Approach Surveillance Radars (ASRs).

The radars are required for eight congested and expanding cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Only two companies—Raytheon and Thales—made the cut of the six that submitted bids in July. However, in August, Eldis, a Czech company with an unproven product, was added to the list after government officials took a trip to the Czech Republic to visit the company. No reason was given for the decision to add Eldis to the list, even though the company does not adhere to the main requirement of the AAI that finalists must have installed radars at a major airport with at least 1.5 million passengers passing through it annually.

With India’s growing aviation traffic—8% annually—approach radars are seen as a key safety enhancement. The current 15-year-old and or older radars are creating repetitive failures and there is a growing concern in the industry that if they are not replaced, safety will suffer.

In July and August there were 18 instances of radar failure at six airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, according to local reports. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel recently acknowledged in parliament that one of two radars at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport was not functioning for four hours after a cable link broke.

The AAI master plan for modernization of air traffic management equipment envisages public funding of around $221 million to cope with the growing traffic and respond to increasing safety requirements.

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