The Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology is looking for suitable land for setting up a 4,000 ft airstrip to overcome the constraints in using the runway of the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

“The lack of availability of the runway at the international airport due to flight operations of the airlines and the Indian Air Force has forced the academy to look for an airstrip of its own,” Executive Vice-Chairman of the academy V. Thulasidas said.

With the 27 students of the academy undertaking solo and cross-country flying now, non-availability of the runway for the trainer aircraft is turning to be a major problem. Often, the students have to wait at the airport along with trainers for hours to get clearance.

4,000-ft runway

The authorities had already inspected several places in the State and Tamil Nadu for a place suitable for the airstrip. “We are looking for plain land to set up a 4,000-ft runway exclusively for the academy,” he said.

The efforts to use the airstrip at Khantar, near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, were unsuccessful as the Indian Air Force is planning to enhance its operations. The airport at Tuticorin has been found unfeasible in view of the hostile wind pattern.

Mr. Thulasidas said there were demands to set up an aviation academy at the proposed Kannur airport. The chances of setting up a separate airstrip there and at the Bekal tourist resort were also being explored. The airstrip at Bekal was being mooted for bringing tourists from the nearby airports.

The State-owned academy has six trainer aircraft, including the three newly acquired Cessna 172 R aircraft. The academy has plans to acquire two more aircraft and a simulator.

The academy has plans to commence Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) programme once the four storey building comes up in the vicinity of the international airport. The plan is to offer commercial pilot licence along with a university degree by entering into a tie-up with a varsity, he said.