In a move that could help streamline air travel, the air traffic controllers (ATCs) in Mumbai may soon have complete control of the western air space.
Currently, a pilot taking off from Delhi for Mumbai has to communicate with ATCs at regional centres such as Nagpur and Ahmedabad. Pilots have to tune into a new radio frequency every time they enter a regional air space.
Once the Upper Air Space Management system is put in place, an ATC officer in Mumbai can coordinate the entire journey. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is testing the system at the Chennai airport and based on the results it will be implemented in Mumbai by the end of this month.
Although the move is mainly aimed at easing communication challenges between the ATC and pilots, airport officials said it would make a huge difference in streamlining air traffic.
“Controllers can reduce the separation between flights mid-air because the entire air space is under their control. As a result it could help reduce congestion during peak hours,” said a senior ATC official requesting anonymity.
The initiative is also part of India’s commitment to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to centralise air traffic control operations in the four metros Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. The long-term plan is for ATC units at Delhi and Kolkata to gain more air space such as Chennai and Mumbai.
ICAO, the global policy maker for air travel, has been promoting such distribution of air space, following its effective implementation in the west.