After a delay of almost a year, the new air-traffic control (ATC) tower at the Mumbai city airport is finally ready for use.
But it still cannot handle flight movements immediately. On October 18, the Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) will hand over the new tower to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for ATC equipment testing and installations. After that, the ATC will take a month to start handling flight movements from the new location and another month for a final takeover. The full set-up, complete with offices, will be moved to the tower by the end of November.
Located off the Western Express Highway, the 84-m high structure, which is roughly the size of a 30-storey building, will allow the secondary runway at the airport to be free of obstacles. The current ATC tower stands too close to the secondary runway as a result of which some international carriers, such as Singapore Airlines, apparently refuse to land on the runway. “It is a notified obstacle and so, painted red and white. Some airlines find it dangerous to land on the secondary runway. Once the new tower is operational and the old one demolished, the obstacle would be removed,” said a senior airport official.
Officials said the construction of a parallel taxi track along the secondary runway has also been stalled due to the presence of the current tower. “Once the old tower is razed, the taxi track can be built. That will enable international aircraft to vacate the runway sooner,” said the official.
The new tower will be inaugurated by the chief minister and the civil aviation minister.