India's ministry of defence frees up airspace for civil use – joint operation to be tested in Chennai

Chennai: A joint arrangement worked out by the ministries of civil aviation and defence, designed to free up airspace which has remained locked up for use by the defence services for long, will now go into operation on a trial basis in the airspace around Chennai. The arrangement will allow commercial aircraft to work out routes through, hitherto, restricted zones.

According to authorities, the arrangement is expected to significantly ease air traffic congestion around India's crowded metro airports.

Under the arrangement, a co-ordinating centre will be set up in Chennai which will be in constant communication with defence bases in Tambaram, Sulur near Coimbatore, Hakimpet in Andhra Pradesh and Yelahanka in Karnataka. The civil and the defence sides will be flexible in their approach in allocating the use of air space amongst themselves and keep in mind the short-term requirements of both their respective sectors.

According to industry estimates, around 35 per cent of the country's airspace is currently under the control of the ministry of defence. A booming aviation sector, registering growth of close to 30 per cent on an annual basis, has now compelled the ministry of civil aviation to ask the ministry of defence to release air space.