Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gagan Costs Draw Resistance from India’s Airlines

 - July 15, 2015, 10:15 AM
India's airlines worry about the high cost of equipage and certification associated with Gagan. (Photo: Neelam Mathews)
India’s airlines are resisting attempts by the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to adopt the recently launched Gagan (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) system, citing the high cost of associated equipment and the time needed for retrofits, training and certification.
One of the world’s four satellite-based augmentation systems, Gagan is a joint project of the Airport Authority of India (AAI), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Raytheon. Its advanced air navigation technology provides coverage for the entire Indian Flight Information Region (FIR) via broadcast signals from two Indian built satellites (GSAT 8 and GSAT 10). “It improves fuel efficiency of airlines operating throughout India,” said Raytheon’s country director and senior executive for India, Nik Khanna.
Indian civil aviation director M. Sathiyavathy confirmed that the DGCA has held discussions with airlines on whether authorities should mandate or “incentivize” the system. “It is in early stages and nothing is decided as yet,” she told AIN. While Gagan promises compatibility with future aircraft’s SBAS equipment, the DGCA will need to address directives for Indian-registered aircraft. Maximum benefit from en route and guided approach landing would require operators to equip all aircraft with global navigation satellite system (GNSS) avionics.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has opposed making Gagan mandatory. “Airlines have already invested in the Aircraft Based Augmentation System [ABAS]….Until we see a positive benefit, airlines are not interested [in it],” IATA director general Tony Tyler told AIN.
The government cannot mandate the system as it is not related to safety,” said a senior domestic airline official, who estimated that receivers cost $160,000 per aircraft. “This is a large amount given that the entire fleet would need to be retrofitted….Besides pilots are averse to it since it would add to the cockpit load.” He insisted theDGCA should have consulted with airlines when it planned Gagan 15 years ago. “We could have then negotiated the cost of receivers with OEMs when ordering aircraft,” he explained.
Gagan was planned for use in aviation,” said Arjun Singh, former joint general manager for communications, navigation and surveillance for AAI. “Direct routes result in significant reduction in fuel, congestion and passenger time. Restructuring of India’s entire airspace must be taken into account in the new civil aviation policy being redrafted by the government.”
While plans include involving neighboring countries to participate in Gagan, an AAI official asked, “If you can’t sell it to your own airlines and prove that it is beneficial, what template will you propose to others?”

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