Come August and flights at the Delhi airport will take off in a much more smoother and faster manner.The Airports Authority of India, which manages air traffic control (ATC) at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, will upgrade the system of pre-departure clearances given to aircraft.
Pre-departure clearance is the authorisation given by the ATC to the pilot regarding the runway to be used, route to be flown from departure to destination and the cruising level that the aircraft is expected to maintain.
At present, the clearance is given verbally by the ATC officials to pilots over VHF radio. The ATC will now use data link communication so that the clearance and the entire route to be taken are automatically shown on a screen in the aircraft’s cockpit.
“The trial of the system is already under way at the Mumbai airport and will be implemented in Delhi very soon,” said an AAI spokesman.
“Data link communication has been very successful and reduced a lot of time at the Mumbai airport. We will use it in Delhi, followed by the airports in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata,” he said. Sources at the IGI airport said that the new system was likely to be implemented by the end of August or the first fortnight of September.
“Currently, we issue the clearance over radio to pilots, who are supposed to read it back to confirm receipt. There remains a chance of miscommunication and that is why sometimes we ask pilots to read it back more than once,” said an ATC official who didn’t wish to be named.
As it is not possible for more than one pilot to talk to an ATC official at the same time, the wait for clearance gets longer and leads to delays. This also increases the workload of ATC officials.
With data link communication, the pilot requests for clearance using the flight management computer in the cockpit, which reaches ATC officials. The official selects the route and sends it directly to the cockpit.