Airport expansion: Presence of VOR overlooked
CHENNAI: It seems the Airports Authority of India forgot that the linkway they are constructing at the Chennai Airport to join the main and secondary runway will result in displacement of a very high frequency omni range (VOR) equipment, an essential requirement for any airport from the pilot’s perspective to identify his destination.
Sources at the airport said the officials had apparently ignored the presence of VOR in close proximity to the new linkway 1 and the parallel taxiway to main runway that have been constructed.
“Owing to its proximity to the linkway it has to be demolished as the aircraft wings will bump into it. AAI apparently didn’t foresee this during the expansion stage. It seems to be a planning error. Subsequently they also realised that there is no other convenient location except for near the hangars which couldn’t be demolished. Hence they are now having to make two VORs- one for each runway. It is a lot of work because new procedures have to be put in place and well tested before it is commissioned,” an ATC source said.
A VOR is basically a navigational instrument that gives out radials to the pilot for setting his course to come into his destination airport.
“The VOR will be unsteady if it has any obstruction in its path. A VOR, apart from a homing device, is a primary facility for an instrument approach when a pilot practises automated landing instead of manually controlling or visual flying. In the absence of a VOR, IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) landing cannot be done at all. Moreover, in absence of VOR and instrument landing system equipment, visibility requirements will become very poor leading to more diversions. Night operations are also not possible,” retired ATC official and aviation expert Krishnan said.
Regional executive director for southern region Devraj said that the current VOR was a hindrance to the developmental infrastructure of the airport. “It was coming in the way of the parallel taxiway to main runway and is a hindrance. Hence we decided to relocate it. While one VOR for main runway is almost ready, another one for secondary runway will also be installed,” he said.
Installing a VOR is, however, no easy process as new procedures for pilot’s flight path have to be put in place and tested before the DGCA gives the final approval - something that takes months.
“AAI wants us to start using the secondary runway as soon as possible for day operations but with shorter runway and no navigational aids on this we will face huge penalties and safety hazards. Moreover, after the Mumbai incident of Kingfisher flight going off the runway, DGCA approval is required for use of runway shorter than 7,000ft,” an airport source said.
“It is purely ill-planning on AAI side. All the expansion plans are being made in Delhi without the involvement of the local technical experts,” an ATC source said.