The delay in installing an approach radar at the Cochin international airport is affecting the landing of aircraft during peak hours and burning a hole in airlines’ pocket through high fuel bills.

Delayed landing is a problem passengers to Kochi are facing over the years and an approach radar will solve the issue as it can avoid procedural delays, aviation sources told The Hindu.

Security risk

A flight is made to hover around Kochi for over 15 minutes during peak hours before getting clearance for landing, which is a security risk as there may be many aircraft in the vicinity.

As the Western Ghats is in close proximity to the approach way, an approach radar can help the Air Traffic Control tower guide the commander to descend the aircraft. At present, at the Nedumbassery airport, the commander is in charge of the process.

The sources said an approach radar would keep the control tower in constant touch with the pilot.

A medium aircraft hovering for 15 minutes will burn 1,000 kg of aviation turbine fuel. The airline companies stand to save lakhs of rupees in fuel and operational cost if the flights are provided immediate clearance to land.

The Cochin airport has aerodrome and approach controls to take care of incoming and outgoing traffic from the airport and Cochin Garuda of the Indian Navy. It has been pointed out that the Kochi airport can handle only six flights an hour owing to procedural constraints.

It takes 10 minutes to handle a flight in Kochi, which is three to four minutes in the case of the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

The Cochin airport handles on an average 100 aircraft movements daily. Flight movements up to 25,000 ft during day time are taken care of by Kochi, while those above 25,000 ft are taken care of by the Area Control, Thiruvananthapuram.

‘No scientific approach’

The sources said there was no scientific approach to acceptance of flight schedules in Kochi. Allowing more flights to land during peak hours had often resulted in crowding of the skies.

The airport was made operational on June 10, 1999, and boasts a 3.4-km runway, one of the longest in the country.

The sources said steps had been taken to install an approach radar at the Cochin airport and the Airports Authority of India, which takes care of air traffic management, would execute it. CIAL would provide the infrastructure for setting up the facility.