As air force bases all over country undergo major infrastructure and technology upgrade, move set to benefit civilian aircraft operations

THE Lohegaon airport that serves the city is set to benefit from an Indian Air Force (IAF) project which involves massive infrastructural and technological revamp.

Called the Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure (MAFI), the project is being carried out at all major air force bases in the country and the changes include new radars, landing and navigational technology, and hangars.

The Lohegaon airport that serves the city

The over Rs 1,000 crore project is being carried out at 30-odd air bases in the country and the Tata Power Strategic Electronic Systems has bagged the contract for it.

Apart from arming air bases with hi-tech weapons, the project includes navigational radars, advanced Air Traffic Control management systems and Instrument Landing Systems (ILS).

Airport officials say this will benefit domestic aircraft operations since capacity handling is increased.

Officials also pointed to the possibility of the city being connecting by more international routes if the plans are successful.

"ATC technologies are critical for capacity expansion since more flight operations can be handled at a particular moment.
Most mishaps and delays occur because the long queue of departing and lading aircraft cannot be handled even with existing radars," said an airport official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

New hangars for private aircraft are also on the anvil.

Also, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is going for the Rs 800 crore GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN), which uses satellite technology for navigation and communication.

Airport director P S R K Sudhakar said the airport will benefit if the projects are successful. "All domestic airports which share space with the military will benefit," he said.

Sudhakar also talked about the Aerodrome Environmental Committee, which involves the IAF, the airport, local corporators and the police.

The committee deals with issues like bird hits, garbage collection and illegal occupation of airport land.

"There are quarterly meetings to discuss these issues and the committee is chaired by the IAF Lohegaon base commander of air commodore rank," he said.