Operation from New Control Tower at Mumbai

 
Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mumbai airport's traffic control will shift to the new sky tower on Wednesday, when controllers seated at a height equivalent to the 30th floor of a building will begin handling aircrafts on round-the-clock basis.

From 11.30 am, operations will completely shift to the new tower, which was inaugurated in October. Since then, the air traffic controllers were carrying out coordinated operations from both the old and new towers.

"Operations will be scaled down at the old tower from Wednesday and aircraft control will fully migrate to the new tower," General Manager (ATC) Jayant Dasgupta.

After initial hiccups caused by staff shortage, operators, some deputed from other centres, were specially trained to work at the height of 333 feet - 100 feet higher than the older tower. Staffers from ATC and the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) department have been trained on the upgraded system, as it has the latest, state-of-the art equipment and technology that the old tower did not have.

"It has been a challenge to shift operations on such a scale. The exercise has been difficult with staffers having had to put in extra hours of work as both towers had to be manned simultaneously. Due to its height and location, the new tower will ensure better surveillance," Dasgupta said.

Later this year, the old tower, which was proving to be an obstruction for the secondary runway 14-32, will be demolished. Many airlines such as Singapore International Airlines, Saudi Airways, Qantas and Continental cannot use this runway at present.

"Though demolishing the tower within the boundaries of a live airport is going to be a challenge, it will help in the construction of additional taxi-ways and secondary runway, improving overall airport efficiency," said a senior airport official.

From the new tower, air traffic controllers will be able to see five miles beyond the thresholds of both runways.

The tower and its associated technical block and mechanical plant building covers 2,884 square metres. The construction cost of the fully equipped tower is estimated at Rs 100 crore.

The previous ATC tower has been functioning since 1999 and was built by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at an overall project cost of about Rs 2.80 billion.

The new tower will be manned by 8-10 air traffic controllers in each shift apart from a dozen engineers. At 83.8 meters, the new ATC tower is India's tallest, built over a space of 2800 sq meters. The glass used for the tower is designed to withstand high speed winds.