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“GAGAN enhances reliability and reduces delays to aircraft”

Sep 2012 | No Comment

V Somasundaram, Member Air Navigation Services (ANS), Airports Authority of India highlights the importance and role of GAGAN in air navigation

What are the key challenges before aviation and the role of AAI?

Considering the transformational rate of growth in passenger traffic, airline fleet and the aircraft movements anticipated in the next few decades, the challenges that confront aviation are the need for matching airport/CNS-ATM infrastructure, airport/airspace capacity enhancement and technology up gradation. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken a number of initiatives to upgrade the airport and airspace infrastructure to cater for the spiraling growth in air traffic, with emphasis on safety and efficiency of aircraft operations and comfort to the traveling public.

As far as Air Navigation Services are concerned, we have improved by leaps and bounds in terms of CNSATM infrastructure. Augmentation of radar coverage, complete automation of Air Traffic Management at major airports and implementation of data link communication are some of the major technological initiatives that we have taken up to improve operational efficiency and safety. The recent international recognition in terms of Jane’s ATC award 2012 is a firm testimony to our achievements in this direction. The other major technological initiatives on the anvil are the Air Traffic Flow Management System and operationalization of the Satellite Based Navigation System of India called GAGAN.

How is GPS being integrated in the modernization of AAI’s plans in aviation security and navigation?

GAGAN is designed to provide the additional accuracy, availability and integrity necessary to enable users to rely on GPS for all phases of flight, from enroute through approach for all qualified airports within the GAGAN service volume. GAGAN, through its improved positional information will be an enabler for Performance Based Navigation (PBN) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) and Route optimization through direct routing.

It has been said that India will have certified GAGAN by 2013. How close we are to this?

GAGAN signal in space is already available. It has entered the final operational phase and on certification of the system, which is in process, the system is expected to be operational by June 2013.

Are we equipped to put GAGAN to its optimum use for air navigation?

As I mentioned earlier, GAGAN is operational and signals are already available for non-aviation use. On certification, the system will be available for aviation use for aircraft equipped with suitable SBAS receivers. As such, we are fully committed and ready to put the system in operation for aviation as per schedule.

What is your preparation to make prospective users aware about GAGAN and its applications?

A GNSS User meet was organized jointly by ISRO and AAI in which 250 delegates from the government, aviation industry and educational institutions participated. The meeting provided all the participants with an insight into GAGAN, its operation, potential areas of its application, the advantages of GAGAN, etc. Another GNSS user meet has been planned in Delhi this month. In addition, many awareness programs and interactive sessions on GAGAN have been organized as part of conferences/ seminars conducted by AAI and other aviation-related organizations.

How is the implementation of GAGAN going to be commercially beneficial for the Indian Aviation Industry?

GAGAN through improved position information permits approaches with vertical guidance, thereby improving access to the airport even during bad weather conditions and consequently reducing diversion of aircraft to other airports. This ensures fuel savings for airlines and reduction in environmental emission. GAGAN enhances reliability and reduces delays in flights, and aids passengers by defining more precise terminal area procedures that feature parallel routes and optimized airspace corridors. This again ensures considerable flight time/fuel savings and valuable man-hours contributing immensely to the Indian economy apart from environmental benefits.

How do you see the issue of interference and spoofing of satellite signals as threats for the aviation industry? Is AAI preparing for any special measures to counter it?

Unintentional interference to GNSS signals may arise from several sources, operating in the same bands as GNSS or in other bands. A non-exhaustive list would include mobile and fixed VHF communications, television signals, certain radars, mobile satellite communications, military systems, point-to-point microwave links, GNSS repeaters and systems on-board aircraft (both avionics and passenger devices).

Intentional interference to GNSS signals (jamming) so far has typically targeted non-aviation users, but it may affect aviation users as well. Presently, AAI is mitigating the effects of interference by effective spectrum management and interference tracking.

Further, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), AAI, other ANSPs, standardization bodies, manufacturers and aircraft operators are also assessing the cost-benefit aspect of an effective solution to the above issues which is the use of multi-constellation, multi-frequency GNSS. As far as the interference caused by Ionospheric scintillations is concerned, the Unique IONO algorithm developed for GAGAN would address the issue to a large extent.

The ultimate goal of the industry is to establish an institutional and legal framework that would enable the unrestricted use of any GNSS element.

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