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Air Force station runway to be extended to 9,000 ft

By Rasheed Kappan

A Bell-407 Shen seven-seat helicopter (left), piloted by Eric Emblin, was the first Aero India participating aircraft to land at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore on Thursday. Also flying in was the Sea Harrier aircraft from the Indian Nav y, first time participant at the airshow. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

BANGALORE, FEB. 3. Giving a boost to the Aero India show, the Defence Ministry has given the green signal to plans to extend the 7,500-ft Yelahanka Air Force Station runway to 9,000 ft in two phases before 2007; resurface the existing runway to withstand landing of heavier aircraft and upgrade the air display viewing area.

In the first phase of the runway extension project approved by the Ministry, an additional 300 ft will be available for participating aircraft during next week's Aero-India 2005. The Ministry had sanctioned Rs. 5.44 crores for the first phase out of the projected cost of about Rs. 40 crores, the station's administration officer, Sqn. Ldr. R.B. Mahanubav, told The Hindu.

Once resurfaced, the runway will be able to withstand the landing pressure of much heavier aircraft. "The runway could then accommodate wide-bodied aircraft. This will enhance the participation from global aviation companies, attracting them to bring in their bigger aircraft," he said.

The runway will be resurfaced to PCN-40 (Pavement Classification Number) level, a degree applied to measure its resistance to pressure. At present, the runway's PCN is less than 20, according to sources in the Air Force. Upgrading the indoor display area for stalls, the outdoor display areas for static display of participating aircraft at a cost of Rs. 3.08 crores and construction of an echo hangar for Rs. 11.8 crores are all part of the IAF's modernisation plans to be ready in time for the 2007 airshow, an exposition that will be vastly superior in scale to next week's exposition.

Meanwhile, for the first time in Air Force history, the Station's meteorological section has installed a mathematical "Meso Scale model" with a resolution of 25 kilometres to forecast the weather for three days in advance during the airshow. "This is the first time that the IAF has set up this model operationally," informed Sqn. Ldr. Neeraj Sharma. In the civilian sector, the model is being used only by the National Centre for Medium Range Forecast (NCMRF). "It is basically a mathematical modelled forecast based on initial weather conditions," Sqn. Ldr. Sharma explained.

To ensure that nature does not adversely affect the airshow, the section has also been equipped with a satellite receiver, customised software and a hi-end computer manned by a special officer.


The Station's Air Traffic Control (ATC) unit has set up a hotline link with the approach radar at the HAL Airport to coordinate the flying activities during the airshow. The two units will also work in tandem as a disaster management mechanism. "We are equipping ourselves with information such as parameters and airframe of foreign aircraft to help us rescue a pilot in case of a crash. We have also formulated disability emergency policies," said Sqn. Ldr. V.S. Hardas, senior control officer.

IAF has deployed five Crash Fire Tenders (CFTs) in five zones across the station and demarcated areas for ejection of pilots in case of snags. "The CFTs are designed to reach any area within two minutes. Five personnel have been positioned in the CFTs."

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