New Delhi: Loss making Indian carriers like Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher can see a ray of hope from the implementation of a new air traffic system that will cut the hovering time for them and ensure faster clearances for landing and take-off .
With the government having expedited the process of getting a central flow management system (CFMS) in place, congestion at busy airports is set to ease. The system will replace the existing five flight information regions (FIRs), and would provide information to the aircraft about congestion at their destinations in advance.
That would allow the aircraft to take off only when there congestion at its destination airport has eased, saving expensive aviation turbine fuel. Developed countries such as the US and Canada already have CFMS implemented in their airspace.
Industry sources say that smaller aircraft like the ATR and CRJ consume fuel worth almost Rs1,500 per minute, with larger planes like the A320 and B737 eating up fuel at rates of around Rs3,000 a minute. They say that though the new air traffic control system would cost the government Rs60 crore, savings for airlines would be immense.
Currently, there are four flight information regions (FIRs), one each at Delhi , Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. An aircraft taking off from Delhi airport for Mumbai presently has no way of knowing in advance about congestion and air traffic flow at Mumbai. Having already taken off from Delhi, it has no alternative but to hover over Mumbai in case of congestion.
Sources in the ministry of civil aviation say that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is working out the process of reducing the FIRs. Once the software integration is completed, there would effectively be a single system controlling the entire airspace. Ministry officials say that the air traffic management system would be based in Mumbai, with a similar system in Delhi for back-up.