Mumbai Airport to get new Air Traffic Management system; might be able to fly past its current capacity

The issue of lack of back-up in the old system came to attention in April after one of the four machines that are part of the guiding system called Lower Area Control (LAC) crashed

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If all goes right, Mumbai airport might soon be flying airplanes to its maximum capacity of 1,040 flights a day or even more. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has expressed its interest to buy a new Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, which would help them accommodate maximum flights in a given time period.

Alongside, the new system will also take care of contingencies like the closure of neighbouring airspaces or other emergency situations that pressurise Mumbai’s air traffic. In the meantime, senior AAI officials stated that their primary aim is to get the new system working within 15 months. 

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Currently, the Mumbai Air Traffic Controller uses a 15-year-old air system, which is unable to handle the load of the growing air traffic. Alongside, the maintenance contract for the same has expired, and its spare parts are also not available in the market. 

The issue of lack of back-up in the old system came to attention in April after one of the four machines that are part of the guiding system called Lower Area Control (LAC) crashed. The crash occurred when the Mumbai ATC had to manage a 60 per cent rise in air traffic, following the closure of airspace in Pakistan in February. 

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Prior to this, the system had first crashed on March 30 for a few minutes. However, on April 5, it took 20 minutes for the system to get back to normal. The issue was then discussed with senior authorities in Mumbai and a proposal for a new system was sent to AAI’s headquarters in Delhi.

Now the procedure will be procured in two phases. Accordingly, under the first phase, the new system will installed in the current Mumbai air traffic service (ATS) facility. After which, AAI who has already started planning for a new modern ATS complex will install the system under the second phase.

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