New air traffic control tower opens at Delhi airport

A new air traffic control (ATC) tower has been operationalised at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport on Monday, which is expected to significantly enhance the efficiency and quantum of air traffic management (ATM) services at one of India’s busiest airports.

The new ATC tower at IGI airport, India’s tallest at a height of 102 metres, is said to be the ninth highest ATC tower globally. Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok is the tallest at 132.2 metres.

Delhi airport’s new ATC tower,  built at a cost of about $50 million, is equipped with the latest technology which will help high level of precision in air traffic management in terms of tracking flights, officials at Airport Authority of India (AAI) have said.

“The new ATC tower at IGI airport will have more ground coverage as also more control stations. This will improve the operational efficiency and precision of tracking flights considerably,” J B Singh, General Manager, AAI, told Arabian Business.

“There are provisions for 33 tower and ground controllers’ position at Level 26 and 25 of the new ATC tower,” Singh added.

The old ATC tower at IGI airport could handle about 75 air traffic managements (ATMs) per hour. The new tower could increase the ATMs by about 25-30 percent, AAI officials said.

AAI officials, however, said the exact capacity of the new ATC tower will be known only when the fourth runway at IGI airport becomes operational.

GMR Group-led Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) has recently announced construction of a fourth runway at IGI as part of its $1.4 billion phase 3 expansion plans.

The construction of the new runway and associated infrastructure projects, which will pave the way for more flights to India’s capital city, is projected to increase the airports annual passenger handling capacity of IGI airport from around 66 million to 100 million by 2022.

After the fourth runway becomes operational, the new ATC tower is projected to help the airport handle over 96 ATMs per hour.

“The new ATC tower has advanced radar and automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS B)-enabled automation system for controllers to be able to peep into aircraft FMS (flight management system) for enhanced safety of flight operations.

It will also have electronic flight strips in place of paper strips, AAI officials said.

DIAL officials said they had built the tower building about 3 year ago and handed over to AAI.

AAI officials admitted that the operationalisation of the new ATC tower was delayed due to ‘technical glitches’.

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