The Indian Air Force (IAF) has "stonewalled the upgradation of landing equipment" at Srinagar "International" Airport which could have facilitated landing and take-off of flights even during low visibility, officials informed.
The outdated Instrumentation Landing System (ILS) is hampering operation of flights during winter months at the Kashmir's lone aerodrome causing massive problems for the local flyers.
For third consecutive day, there has been cancellation of flights at Srinagar Airport adding to the woes of flyers, while experts pinpoint at the failure of authorities to "install upgraded landing equipment which could facilitate landing and take –off of flights even during low visibility." 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.
However, sources informed Greater Kashmir that the Director of Srinagar Airport had moved a proposal to Indian Air Force urging them to upgrade landing equipment at the airport which has met cold response.
"So far there has been no response from the IAF," Director Srinagar Airport, Sharad Kumar told Greater Kashmir.
He said that upgraded ILS would have automatically facilitated operation of flights during low visibility. "But neither the state government nor IAF is showing any seriousness in upgrading the facilities at the Airport," he said adding that "State government could also on their own upgrade landing facilities for the welfare of the flyers."
As per Airport officials, there is need for installing/ upgrading ILS as the Valley mostly witnesses foggy days during winter months. "Most of the airports outside have upgraded landing facilities which facilitate operation of flights even during visibility of only 500 metres," said a senior official adding that the Delhi Airport has installed Runway Visual Radar (RVR) which facilitates landing off flights even in 200 metres visibility," he adds.
The officials opined that if the state government would have shown any seriousness they could have installed the upgraded equipment of their own or pursued IAF to do the same.
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. On Sunday, no flights could land at the airport, neither were the flights able to take off later while the scene was no better on Saturday and Friday. The foggy weather conditions have led to frequent disruption of flights at the Srinagar Airport.