New rules caused 2 breaches: Air Traffic Controllers body to civil aviation secy | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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New rules caused 2 breaches: Air Traffic Controllers body to civil aviation secy

Nov 03, 2023 12:28 PM IST

The body representing air traffic controllers (ATC) claimed that the two incidents were the result of the changed ATC rules

There were two incidents in which aircraft came closer to each other than is regarded safe, a letter by a body representing air traffic controllers has said, claiming that they were the result of a change in ATC rules.

In October, here were two incidents in which aircraft came closer to each other than is regarded safe. (HT Archive)
In October, here were two incidents in which aircraft came closer to each other than is regarded safe. (HT Archive)

The air traffic controllers (ATC) guild on Wednesday wrote to the secretary of civil aviation, Vumlunmang Vualnam, citing prior communication in which they expressed concern over a plan to unify what are known as surveillance area control and procedure area control.

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“ATC Guild (India) would like to remind your good office about the subject matter and no action taken on it by DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) and AAI (Airports Authority of India) . The fear which we have shown in our reference letters... is becoming real now, as the implementation of Area Control (Surveillance & Procedural)… has already borne us 2 airprox/ breach of separation incidents at IGI Delhi and Ahmedabad airports within few days of implementation of concurrent system, and the count will go on if timely action is not taken,” said the letter.

The purported incidents took place in October, though the exact dates or the flights involved were not immediately determinable.

These two functions refer to the two broad tasks ATC staff have when a flight enters controlled airspace. When a plane enters controlled airspace, ATC keeps a watch and guides the aircraft while descending, taking off, from the airport.

Monitoring where the planes are is known as surveillance, while procedure control issues the necessary direction.

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The introduction of this new system is unlikely to be the cause of the two incidents, an AAI spokesperson said.

“The investigation for both the incidents is in progress with DGCA. The causal factor is yet to be ascertained. However, it is unlikely that the incident occurred due to the implementation of concurrent rating, since necessary due diligence was carried out before its implementation,” the spokesperson said.

DGCA did not respond to requests for comment. “Any changes in protocol or procedures are undertaken through a considered process. The issue raised by ATC Guild will be reviewed carefully,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said.

The letter alleged that the ATCOs have been initiating an alert about the matter from the first day the new system was “forced upon” them in a “hurry to cover” the dictatorial email of DGCA officials of invalidating the age old tested and successfully running system of Area control in India

The controllers said in the letter that the traffic density at major area control centre sectors has always been high and beyond capacity of two controllers controlling aircraft to ensure safe provision of air traffic services. To add to it the same traffic density is loaded over a single controller, under the new system. They thus requested the authorities to place two controllers on duty for handling both the regions at the same time, instead of one.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    I am a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. I track the aviation and railways ministry. I also write on travel trends. I cover the beats at the national level for the newspaper. Before being in Delhi, I have worked as a journalist in Mumbai as well. My hobbies include trekking and travelling.

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