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June 30, 2010

New towers to help planes connect better with ATC

Filed under: Airports — aerotowfeeq @ 10:24 pm
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Following complaints from airlines that aircraft flying into Mumbai sometimes struggle to get in touch with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) while over the sea because of heavy congestion, the Airports Authority of India has boosted infrastructure to make communication smoother.

Officials said they have set up additional receiver towers at Mumbai airport’s Remote Receiver Station at Dahisar. This will increase the frequency spots available to planes. “We are increasing the frequency spots from two to six. This will help communication,” said an AAI official.

The installation was done in the span of a week earlier this month, to ensure that the facility is available during the monsoon. “Some fine-tuning is left. But we have already received feedback from South African Airways that communication has improved,” said an AAI official. Airlines from Sri Lanka and Mauritius too have been known to face communication difficulties, the official said.

When over the sea, most planes use the high frequency range. At peak hour, the ATC could get up to 50 contacts from over the sea, and the lines are often busy. As a result, some pilots have to relay-communicate their location to the ATC; if they cannot get through, they get in touch with a plane within range to pass on the message to ATC.

“The upgrade will ensure clear communication up to 1,500 nautical miles,” said an AAI official. The range of the Mumbai ATC varies from 800 nautical miles to around 3,000 nautical miles in various directions.

Around 40 per cent of the planes flying to Mumbai and over its airspace do without HF communication. They are automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast-enabled; communication is over satellite. However, some airlines find this expensive as they have to subscribe to a service provider, SITA or ARINC. The remaining 60 per cent use HF.

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