CAT II ILS to function at Srinagar airport by June

Upgraded system will allow flights to operate at low visibility
Passengers look keenly at the screen displaying flight status at Srinagar Airport during recent air traffic disruptions created by snowfall in Kashmir. [File]
Passengers look keenly at the screen displaying flight status at Srinagar Airport during recent air traffic disruptions created by snowfall in Kashmir. [File] Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: By the end of June, the Srinagar International Airport will have a CAT II Instrument Landing System (ILS) functional, which would enable planes to land even in low visibility.

Director Srinagar International Airport, Kuldeep Singh told Greater Kashmir that the CAT II ILS was now under construction and would be operational by June this year.

“It will be functional by end of June and will resolve prevailing visibility problem,” he said.

"The airport's ILS is built to operate with a visibility of more than 1000 metres. If the visibility falls below this limit, we never operate a flight. As a result, our ILS runs in a completely secure and safe manner. We are installing a CAT II ILS system to circumvent the airfield's shutdown due to limited visibility," another senior civil aviation official said.

He said that after the new ILS system is put into service, the visibility threshold would increase to 600 metres. “With the installation of this system, flight operations that were previously disrupted during the winter will improve next winter," the official said.

Earlier, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture flayed the government for the non-availability of the latest Instrument Landing System (ILS) CAT-II or CAT-III at the Srinagar International Airport, leading to frequent cancellations of flights.

“The committee is dismayed to note that regular delays in flight operations and cancellations of flights occur at the Srinagar Airport due to non-availability of CAT-II or CAT-III facilities,” reads a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

“The committee fails to understand the reason behind the non-installation of CAT II and CAT facilities at the Srinagar Airport in the present age of technology and that too at one of the strategic locations of J&K,” the committee said. “Some members of the committee faced a harrowing experience during the recent study visit of the committee to Srinagar as they were stranded at the Srinagar Airport due to the cancellation of flights amidst adverse foggy conditions. Availability of CAT-II or CAT-III landing facility at the Srinagar Airport could have facilitated the landing of aircraft in those circumstances.”

The committee said that the Union Civil Aviation Ministry had clarified that AAI maintains a Civil Enclave at Srinagar Airport while airfield installations and airside operations at the airports are maintained by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“At present, ILS Category I is operational and maintained by AAI at RWY 31 of the Srinagar Airport,” the committee said.

It has taken serious note of the inconvenience and delays faced by the flyers, especially Members of Parliament, and international and domestic tourists due to such deficiencies at the Srinagar Airport.

The report states that the committee hopes that the Modernisation of Military Airfields (MAFI) project which was a turn-key project would enhance the operational capability by facilitating air operations of civilian aircraft even in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions while enhancing aerospace safety.

“The committee feels that Srinagar, being one of the most attractive tourist places in India, is visited by a large number of tourists and the absence of CAT-II or CAT-III facility at the Srinagar Airport hampers the flow of tourists to Kashmir, which in turn affects its economy badly,” the committee said.

It said that the ministry should impress upon IAF to install such a facility at the airport at the earliest.

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