Flight delays at airports due to air traffic congestion, even of five minutes, should be taken seriously, says a report submitted to the Civil Aviation Ministry on Monday.
The Ajay Prasad Committee on a master plan on air navigation recommends automation of air traffic services of international standards and avoiding overloading of flights, especially in busy airports like Delhi and Mumbai.
The report says capacity of air traffic control (ATC) to handle more flights should be determined according to how much delay is being caused due to the load. Once a capacity is analysed scientifically, the system should not be overloaded, it says.
Other important recommendations include flexible use of airspace between civil and defence traffic to optimise air space, demarcation of Airport Authority of India's (AAI's) role as airport operator and ATC service provider and automation and upgradation of air navigation systems at airports, especially Delhi and Mumbai, which witness the heaviest air traffic load in the country.
The committee was set up on March 20 by the ministry to formulate a master plan for air navigation services in the future. The committee recommends that AAI, which manages air traffic control at all airports, should immediately implement international standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The committee says AAI should immediately review outdated ATC procedures followed at various airports, especially in Delhi and Mumbai, and increase their capacity to handle air traffic. It recommends that Flight Information Regions in Indian air space should be brought down from the present four to two, with two area control centres in Delhi and Mumbai.
It says AAI should upgrade the Automatic Terminal Information Service facility to Digital Automatic Information Service — especially in Mumbai and Delhi — by August 2008. It should also instal Ground Based Augmentation System at Delhi and Mumbai airports, which improves the existing Instrument Landing System and helps aircraft land in bad visibility.
The committee says Air Traffic Control Officers should be provided standardised functional capabilities of Air Traffic Services support systems like conflict prediction, detection, advisory and resolution needs. To work out ways of more flexible use of airspace between military and civil aviation, it recommends setting up of a high-level committee by the government.