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Massive ATC revamp on

Making the skies safer for aircraft is high on the government?s agenda and steps to upgrade infrastructure and equipment for Air Traffic Control are being taken on a war footing, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 01:16 IST

Making the skies safer for aircraft is high on the government’s agenda and steps to upgrade infrastructure and equipment for Air Traffic Control are being taken on a war footing, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said. If a series of reports beamed by news channel CNN IBN from Wednesday — “Fear in the Sky” — is true, the government’s action doesn’t come any sooner.

There were 15 air misses in 2005 alone, the reports said. A statement issued by the channel said, “While air traffic grew by 24 per cent in 2005, the ATC system hasn’t been able to keep pace because of faulty and deteriorating infrastructure and equipment. This has led to a situation where Air Traffic Controllers are predicting the possibility of a catastrophic accident in the next six months.”

Patel also agreed the system needed a revamp. “From day one, I’ve been saying we need to improve and upgrade equipment and infrastructure at ATC.” The ministry is taking steps to deal with the crisis. Directions have been issued for ATC officers to be recruited at the earliest. “At least 76 officers have been hired and trained. Some have already joined. We’ve sent some officers to Australia to be trained in heavy traffic situations,” the minister said. The number of personnel at heavy traffic locations like Mumbai and Delhi is also being increased.

The government is also trying to implement a majority of the recommendations of the Roy Paul Committee on ATC Upgradation, Patel said.

The CNN IBN report had quoted ATC officials as saying safety buffers were being eroded, as a result of which air misses or near-collisions had taken place. ATC sources, however, told HT that not all air misses were necessarily near-collisions.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 01:16 IST