New ATC tower at IGI by 2010

In a move that promises a major boost to air safety, IGI Airport is all set to get a brand new air traffic control (ATC) tower for the upcoming integrated domestic-cum-international terminal by March 2010 — six years ahead of schedule. As per the original plan, the new tower was supposed to be ready by 2016, when IGI would have had at least three parallel runways as the existing secondary one that almost merges with the main airstrip currently would have been straightened.Now this time line could change, thanks to a visit to the airport on Friday by a team of top aviation ministry officials headed by secretary M Madhavan Nambiar. This team spent a considerable time at the upcoming integrated terminal (T3). Spread over 55 lakh square feet, the seven-storey T3 is going to be the second largest single terminal in the world, next only to Beijing’s 70 lakh square feet new terminal.‘‘When these logistics were being discussed, it was felt that the existing ATC tower — despite being much higher than T3 — could pale in comparison to the new terminal. As per the original agreement, the Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) was to build the new ATC tower by 2016. At this stage, the team lead by Nambiar suggested that DIAL complete the new tower and open it along with T3 in March 2010. After all, a world class airport should get its signature ATC tower simultaneously,’’ said a senior official. The new ATC tower could be among the tallest in India. The GMR group has built a 75-metre-high tower at its Hyderabad airport, the same height as the existing Delhi tower. But the new tower, said DIAL sources, would be much higher as IGI will ultimately have as many as four runways. This would include a new runway that would be built some years later and the straightening of the secondary one. The GMR-led consortia is learnt to have favourably reacted to the suggestion of preponing the completion of new ATC tower that may cost Rs 90-100 crore. Apart from being a suggestion of the ministry, air traffic controllers have also been complaining of a poor view of the new third runway from the existing tower on bad visibility days. The new tower’s location will be such that all runways are visible clearly from there.‘‘Of course all movements are monitored on screen using latest equipment. But having a good view by naked eye of the new runway is also essential as it could help warn an approaching or taxiing plane about the presence of an animal on the airstrip. A number of mishaps have been averted in the past just because the merging twin runways are visible clearly from the tower,’’ an ATC official said.

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