The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has missed another deadline, its third in a year, to set up the surface movement radar (SMR) at the city airport.
Last month, the civil aviation ministry had pulled up AAI officials for delay in installing the radar after the airport witnessed two accidents within a gap of eight days,.
The ministry had set a final deadline of December 31 to get the radar operational. However, the air traffic controllers (ATC) continue to manage airfield traffic based on the naked eye view from the control tower. “Fluctuating visibility owing to fog is making it all the more difficult,” said an ATC official requesting anonymity.
The AAI had procured the radar in February 2009 but failed to install it before monsoon. In May 2010, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) strongly recommended immediate installation of SMR after a collision between a Jet Airways and Indigo Airlines flight was averted.
Then the public sector company set itself an October deadline but missed it again because too much time was taken in selecting the site.
The SMR shows digital images of any moving object on the airfield — be it a dog or a jumbo jet — on the controllers’ workstation.
The navigational aid is critical for Mumbai because the country’s second busiest airfield caters to around 500 airfield vehicles such as catering vans, passengers coaches and oil tankers in addition of more than 600 take-offs and landings every day.
Despite several attempts PK Nagpal, regional director, AAI, was not available for comment.