After going unnoticed for months, the mysterious antenna at the Juhu aerodrome came under the radar of the airport’s stakeholders last week. The stakeholders have now questioned the Airports Authority of India (AAI) regarding the new antenna, which would be operational by the end of the month. While aerodrome officials claim a No Objection Certificate (NOC) has been obtained, stakeholders deny it.

The 35-metre antenna stands close to the Juhu Air Traffic Control (ATC). File pic
The 35-metre antenna stands close to the Juhu Air Traffic Control (ATC). File pic

mid-day had reported on the antenna on June 11. However, now, AAI says the antenna has been placed for the betterment of the pilots but the stakeholders allege they weren’t made aware of any antenna installation. AAI came up with the idea of placing this 35-metre antenna after conducting a survey under the General Manager of Communications Navigations and Surveillance (CNS). Its purpose was to improve communication between the Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) and the pilots. “The antenna was placed around three months back to help the pilots,” explained an AAI official.

A senior AAI official said, “Pilots and ATCOs always reported on a loss of communication while flying in the north sector. The survey revealed that due to high-rises in the area, the air to ground VHF (very high frequency) communications aren’t satisfactory.”

“It was hence recommended to increase the height of the previous VHF antenna (which was 13 metres). Hence, the new antenna is 35 metres long. A technical committee under AAI suggested using the antenna mast lying unused at the radio range in Santacruz,” the official added. AAI officials said the antenna was placed for improving the VHF range, making the movements of choppers safer. “AAI has to apply for DGCA’s permission, that is needed to place anything within 20 km of the airport range,” the official added.

While certain AAI officials claimed they had received an NOC, VSP Chinson, General Manager (Aero) of the western region for AAI said, “Since the (unused) antenna was already in place and has been shifted, no NOC or DGCA permission is required in such cases.”