The first batch of mobile Air Traffic Control (ATC) towers have landed in India. The first of it is at Bokaro and comes from MSM Group Slovakia. This is not the first time that mobile ATC towers would be used. In the past, mobile ATC was used in Bhuj after the earthquake and for a limited period at Mangalore in 2012.
The objective now is to go for cheaper alternative and faster availability of ATC at airports which are being operationalized under UDAN – Regional Connectivity Scheme. This helps move the infrastructure from one airport to another, if a particular airport is not seeing operational flights and another is waiting for infrastructure to begin operations. The mobile ATC also helps reduce costs significantly. Mobile ATCs can be used for military exigencies as well.
The next set of towers are expected to be used to operationalize airfields in Vellore, Jeypore, Bilaspur after which another set of airports will be operationalized.
Generally, there are three kinds of mobile ATC – vehicle mounter, trailer mounter and container mounted. The vehicle mounted ones are generally used by defense forces while container mounted are considered suitable for civil purposes. The trailer mounted ones which are being procured by Airports Authority of India (AAI), can be quickly moved from one airport to another by towing them. They come with hydraulically operated lifts and rise up to a height of eight to twelve meters from ground level, offering a 360-degree view for controllers and accommodate up to four people in the tower.
Picture Source, Credits & Copyrights – Navneet R . Reproduced with permission.
The AAI has been doing a fantastic job of keeping up with the pace of growth of air traffic in the country while facing challenges of manpower amidst opening up of new airports at fast pace, which takes away vital manpower. In the last year or so, many airports like Guwahati, Patna, Indore have had their watch hours extended to offer round the clock operations which led to increase in manpower requirement.