Demand to place RSR on a higher altitude

Confusion prevails over finalising the location for the Route Surveillance Radar (RSR) that is to be procured by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport as part of upgrading its air traffic management systems.

The air traffic management authorities here had informed the AAI that the new RSR should be located at a higher altitude to prevent the radar going ‘blind' above the Nedumbassery, Karipur, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli and Madurai airports and for effective monitoring of the aircraft that are taking off and landing at those airports, highly placed sources in the airport told The Hindu.

The move to install the new Route Surveillance Radar at the same spot where the existing radars were housed would jeopardise air safety as it would not be able to provide ‘line of sight' due to the hilly terrain around Thiruvananthapuram airport. “The radar will go blind as the magnetic lines travel in straight lines, and installing the new one at the ground level will be a safety risk. Though the existing radars at the Thiruvananthapuram airport are 17-years-old, they are in good condition, but for the lack of line of sight,” sources said.

The issue had been taken up with the AAI Chairman and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The radars in Thiruvananthapuram monitor the aircraft movement in Nedumbassery and Kozhikode airports as well, which do not have radars at present, and up to 250 nautical miles off Thiruvananthapuram.

Work orders have already been placed for the new radars, a Route Surveillance Radar and an Approach Surveillance Radar, with the Czech Republic-based company ELDIS Pardubice, and the representatives of the company are scheduled to arrive here to work out the modalities.

Sources said that confusion prevailed among AAI and the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance wing of the AAI that were taking care of the radars.

Route Surveillance Radar that takes care of the aircraft at higher levels as well as longer range needs to be installed at a higher altitude as Western Ghats is present in the north, north east and east of Thiruvananthapuram airport. Approach Surveillance Radar, which takes care of the landing and takeoff of aircraft, can be within the airport.

“The ideal place to install the RSR will be Ponmudi that is 3,000 ft above the sea level. The other options are Thiruvallam Hills (100 ft) and Mukkunnimala (800 ft). The AAI owns land at Thiruvallam, which was used earlier to keep navigation systems. Thiruvallam is a better location than the airport as it is in the approach of airport,” sources said. When contacted, a top AAI official said the new radars being procured would be most probably be housed where the existing radars were kept. “The experts will have the final call,” he said.