Ensuring adequate number of air traffic controllers as air traffic grows: Government | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The government says it is “ensuring an adequate number of air traffic control officers (ATCO)” as India gears up to safely reduce lateral separation — the distance between two aircraft cruising in the same direction and at the same altitude — from current 10 nautical miles (18 km) over the next few months to handle more air traffic.
Air navigation services are provided by the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI).“Air Navigation Services is a sovereign function entrusted to AAI. Ensuring that an adequate number of ATCOs, particularly during the unprecedented growth of the civil aviation sector (is) a priority for the aviation ministry.
The shortage of ATCOs could have attracted adverse remarks from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and could have impacted India’s global ranking and passenger safety. Keeping the importance of having sufficient ATCOs for the civil aviation sector in the country, 796 positions of ATCOs in AAI have been created since July 2021 which will ensure safe navigation services in the country,” the aviation ministry had said in a statement recently.
Regarding ATC licensing, the ministry says: “The indicative timelines published for issue of ATCO Licenses by the DGCA is 20 working days. Against this, the average time taken in 2023, so far, is 14.5 days.”AAI has begun preparations to safely reduce lateral separation between aircraft — meaning those going in same direction at the same altitude — and handle more air traffic as India gears up for a significant increase in airport capacity. AAI, which provides air navigation services or ATC, is working on reducing the current separation of 10 nautical miles (18 km) by about half over the next year or so by taking the required approvals from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The aimed timeframe is understandable as Delhi NCR and Mumbai Metropolitan Region are all set to get their second airports before the end of next year. Goa has already got a second airport. Metros like Bengaluru and Hyderabad and several other places will see a significant expansion in airport capacity. Delhi’s existing IGI Airport, the busiest in India and South Asia, has got four runways now all of which will be in use by next summer.Union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia recently said the at the current rate of growth, India — the world’s fastest growing aviation market — is expected to have 42.5 crore air passengers annually by 2035 from the current 14.5 crore. The country will have 230-240 airports, including heliports and water aerodromes, by 2030, up from 148 now. The combined fleet size of Indian carriers is expected to double from current 700 by the end of this decade with mega orders from IndiGo and Air India.
“A lot of work is visible on the ground with new terminals, runways or new airports being built and existing ones being expanded in many cities. Simultaneously work is on to increase the capacity in the air on ATC side. More airport capacity means more planes in the air and that requires a lot of work to ensure that safety remains paramount as air traffic zooms,” said officials.

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