Experts have said upgradation to Instrumental Landing System (ILS) at the Srinagar Airport is the only way out to overcome the repeated flight disruptions.
“This system ensures that flights can land even if visibility is 350 meters,” said an aviation expert.
The ILS, according to experts, is a ground-based instrumentation system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching the runway to enable its safe landing during reduced visibility conditions, common in Kashmir during winters.
Flight cancellations at the Srinagar International Airport have almost doubled this year, owing to inclement weather. While 98 flights were cancelled during entire month of January this year, 196 flights have already been cancelled this month owing to poor visibility.
After the snowfall of January 5, 2019 air operations were affected on 12 days. The air traffic has witnessed a continuous suspension for 7 days this month so far.
As per Airports Authority of India data, 300 flights were cancelled during 2016 due to inclement weather. Experts say despite introduction of Simple Approach Lighting System (SALS), which facilitates smooth landing and take-off in poor visibility, air traffic remains to be increasingly affected every year.
“Both fog and snowfall for last few years has been so intense that even an improved landing system is unable to help smooth flight operations during extreme weather conditions,” said Director, Airports Authority of India, Santosh Dhoke. He said till last year the required runway visibility at the airport was 2000 metres, adding that installation of SALS at the airport has helped to reduce the requirement to 1000 metres.
Dhoke said even the best of landing facility could not have prevented the cancellations as runway visibility during the recent fog has been extremely poor. “In such situations, nature has to play the biggest role,” said Dhoke.
The Srinagar Airport is under the direct operational control of the Indian Air Force. The control of air traffic and that of the landing strip—including the facilities of fire-fighting and crash activities—is with the IAF while the terminal building, where the passengers check-in, is taken care of by the Airports Authority of India. The AAI also controls the apron area (where an aircraft is parked), but the airspace control is with the IAF.