Aviation revolution in works: Midair gap between aircraft set to halve from January 1 – here’s what it means – Times of India

Indian air traffic control is undergoing a significant change that will enhance efficiency and capacity. Starting from 1st January, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) will allow air traffic controllers to decrease the lateral separation between two aircraft from 10 nautical miles to 5 nautical miles. This change is made possible by the AAI‘s improved surveillance capabilities, thanks to the modernization of navigation radars and technology.
The reduction in lateral separation will not only increase airspace capacity by more than 40% but also provide airlines with access to more direct and fuel-efficient routes, according to an ET report. This development comes at a time when Indian airlines are placing record aircraft orders, anticipating a surge in air travel demand. Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has stated that the number of Indian aircraft has increased by 75% since FY14 and is expected to double to 1,500 over the next five years.
A AAI senior official stated that with the development of Noida and Navi Mumbai Airports, both Delhi and Mumbai will become a two-airport region by next year. Consequently, there’s a pressing need to increase the airspace capacity.In 2018, India mandated the use of modern transponders, known as automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), for aircraft operating in most routes. These transponders continuously transmit essential information about the aircraft’s identification, location, altitude, and velocity, allowing for better surveillance.

New rule for more air traffic

The AAI official explained that all radars have been upgraded in recent years, with most employing modern Mode-S technologies. Additionally, the majority of airspace now benefits from reliable surveillance coverage through the use of ADS-B. Our area control centers are equipped with advanced automation systems that can integrate surveillance feed from multiple sources, the official said.
With these enhanced surveillance capabilities, the AAI has conducted safety assessments and determined it is now possible to reduce lateral separation between two aircraft. This change will benefit all airlines by optimizing airspace usage.
IndiGo, one of India’s largest airlines operating 2,000 flights per day, expressed optimism about the new system. Akash Bhatnagar, Vice President of Flight Operations Support at IndiGo, highlighted that the reduced lateral separation will allow them to choose more fuel-efficient flight levels based on favorable wind patterns. This not only saves fuel and reduces carbon emissions but also promotes sustainability in the aviation industry.

India has also established a central air traffic flow management facility where officials from Air Navigation Services, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Army collaborate to enable direct routing whenever restricted airspace is not in use. For example, when the Indian Air Force opened up previously restricted airspace in Punjab, the flight time between Delhi and Srinagar decreased by approximately 10 minutes, resulting in fuel savings of around 400 kg for an Airbus A320neo.
Read From ET |A quiet revolution in the skies
The coordination between defense and civilian authorities has led to the freeing up of airspace, making routes shorter and reducing costs for airlines. Jet fuel expenses account for 40% of an airline’s operating costs, so shorter routes have a positive financial impact.

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