Flight disruptions a ‘norm’ at Srinagar Airport, courtesy outdated ILS

The Srinagar “International” Airport lacks facilities to enable landing and take-off of flights in low-visibility conditions, thus leading to frequent cancellations, officials said.
Flight disruptions a ‘norm’ at Srinagar Airport, courtesy outdated ILS
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The Srinagar "International" Airport lacks facilities to enable landing and take-off of flights in low-visibility conditions, thus leading to frequent cancellations, officials said.

The foggy weather conditions have led to frequent disruption of flights at the Srinagar Airport. 

On Tuesday, sources said, only two flights could land at the airport, but couldn't take off later while the scene was no better on Monday.

According to sources, the Indian Air Force—which controls the Srinagar "International" Airport—has fixed the visibility of 1.2 km for flights to operate at the aerodrome.  

"An outdated Instrumentation Landing System has been installed at the Airport while airports elsewhere have highly sophisticated landing facilities which facilitate landing even at zero-visibility," said a senior official.

"The problem of cancellation of flights during winters could be fixed easily if category-III- B Instrumentation Landing System or any other category ILS which could facilitate landing of flights even when the visibility is 200 to 300 metres, is installed at the Srinagar Airport," he said.

The Instrumentation Landing System, 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.

The 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.

Flight operations are disrupted every winter with visibility often dropping below 500 metres in December and January.

The ripple effect of any fog-induced delay in the morning often lasts for hours, experts say. 

The most advanced instrument landing system in aviation is CAT III-C, which helps an aircraft land safely in zero visibility. This facility is available at Delhi Airport.

Srinagar-based Director of the Airport Authority of India, R K Shinde admitted that planes have to land at visibility of 1.2 kms at the Srinagar Airport. 

Airline officials say it is the responsibility of IAF to "install such facilities at the Airport as runway is under the control of IAF."

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