India eyes remote air traffic control towers for regional airports - Same as St.Hubert YHU in Canada at Night?
Savings also come from not having to station air traffic controllers, who are in short supply, in remote parts of the country for only a couple of flights a day
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August 24 2017 - Reuters - Aditi Shah
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is considering setting up remote air traffic control (ATC) towers to cut costs and overcome labor shortages, government sources told Reuters, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks to open dozens of regional airports to boost air travel.
Remote monitoring allows traditional concrete control towers to be replaced with dozens of high resolution, infra-red cameras around runways that feed live images to screens in buildings far from the airport.
The technology, used in countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland and Sweden, enables flights at multiple airports to be monitored from one location, reducing the need for air traffic controllers and physical towers at every airport.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has initiated a study on remote monitoring of flights, with a recommendation expected in September, one of the sources said. A decision to proceed could be a boost to companies like Sweden's Saab (SAABb.ST) and Canada-based Searidge Technologies that are in talks with the airport regulator to bring the technology to India.
"India is one of the biggest opportunities in terms of the business potential," said Varun Singh, marketing director at Saab India, adding that it has held several discussions with the airport regulator.
In Canada some airports are remotely managed at certain time of the day. An example below, St. Hubert Airport YHU, less than 4 nautical miles from Montreal, air traffic is managed from Rouyn-Noranda 275 nautical miles away. See read highlighted sections
In Canada some airports are remotely managed at certain time of the day. An example below, St. Hubert Airport YHU, less than 4 nautical miles from Montreal, air traffic is managed from Rouyn-Noranda 275 nautical miles away. See read highlighted sectionsSource: Canadian Flight Supplement/CFS Valid Aug-17-2017 / Oct-12-2017 - Image taken using ForeFlight Application see ForeFlight.com
Searidge, which has set up remote digital towers in Hungary, Albania and Azerbaijan, said it has also presented its technology to the airport regulator.
Air passenger traffic in India, the world's fourth biggest market, is growing at over 20 percent annually. Plans are underway to revive 50 regional airports in the next two years under a new scheme to boost connectivity between small cities.
Low-cost carriers IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe (INGL.NS), and SpiceJet (SPJT.BO) have ordered dozens of new, small planes from European turboprop maker ATR and Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO) to fly regional routes.
The AAI is working with India's aviation safety watchdog, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on the study and has sought information from countries where remote towers are in use, one source said.
The plan hinges on DGCA's approval because remote tower technology is not standardized by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which is still drawing up regulations. In the meantime, countries follow their own safety guidelines.
"Remote ATC is all the more needed for India given our vast area, low traffic at regional airports and the need to keep airfares low," said Amber Dubey, India head of aerospace and defense at consultancy KPMG.
However, in several parts of India...