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Umroi airport upgrade work takes flight

AAI optimistic on speedy removal of hurdles for installation, operation of ILS

From Saurav Bora

UMROI: Infrastructure upgrade of Shillong Airport here has taken flight with environment impact assessment (EIA) for extension of the runway being carried out even as physical obstacles remain for installation and operation of advanced facilities such as the Instrument Landing System (ILS) for safe landing.
 ”The EIA process is on and a private firm has already conducted a survey of the airport during the latter part of February. The terms of reference (online) have been submitted by them to the ministry of environment and forests recently,” airport director, Manoj Kumar Nayak told.
The 6000-feet tarmac would be extended by another 1500 feet as part of the infrastructure upgrade work under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
The Scheme was launched by the Centre in 2016 to improve connectivity to underserved/un-served airports in the country.
“Given the hilly terrain and topography, there are a few physical obstacles for installation and operation of the ILS, which have to be removed first to obtain clearance by the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA),” Nayak said.
The ILS provides an aircraft pilot with instrument indications which, when utilised in conjunction with the normal flight instruments, enables the aircraft to be manoeuvred along a precise, pre-determined, final approach path.
The airport here is located amid picturesque hills and tall trees, some of which pose obstacles for operation of ILS. An area across 224 acres has to be enclosed with boundary walls as well.
The Airports Authority of India is optimistic that the obstacles would be removed so that the upgrade process can be expedited.
“We have approached the state government on several occasions and made presentations on the technical aspects required for infrastructure upgrade work at the airport. Now, we are optimistic that the obstacles would be cleared soon,” Nayak said.
The extension of the runway and clearances for allied upgrade work will facilitate operation of narrow body jet aircraft like Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 from and to the airport.
Under RCS, Air Deccan has won the rights to fly in the Northeast by connecting Umroi airport to Agartala (Tripura), Aizawl (Mizoram), Dimapur (Nagaland), Imphal (Manipur) and Silchar (Assam).
Currently, Alliance Air operates just one ATR-42 aircraft on the Kolkata-Umroi-Kolkata route. “The work for extension of the runway was awarded after a tendering process to a private company recently,” Nayak said.
He further said the safety documents were submitted to DGCA in December last year and clearance was awaited.
Only a month back, refueling facilities were started in the airport by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited paving the way for more chartered flights to land and refuel at the airport. “The load capacity has increased substantially since the start of refueling facilities here,” the airport director said.
The airport was constructed in the mid-1960s and became operational in the mid-1970s. Land measuring 224.16 acres, acquired for its expansion, was handed over to AAI in 2009.
The High Court of Meghalaya had in November last year pulled up the Airports Authority of India for the delay in expansion of the airport.

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