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AAI to revolutionise flight control with GPS

A year into developing a satellite-based navigation system for jet aircraft, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is all set to obtain recognition from the International Civil Aviation Organisation for revolutionise flight movement over the Asia-Pacific. The GPS and Geo Augmented Navigation system or GAGAN is an ambitious project which will put India in the league of countries like USA and Japan where satellite-based navigation has resulted in a substantial increase in flight operations while simultaneously opening up possibilities of new air routes. Once completed, it will take the load off ground-based systems like radars. A plane equipped with global positioning systems can navigate on its own without constantly reaching out to the air traffic control.

‘‘So many rules will become redundant when a plane is able to navigate on its own. Satellite-based navigation will mean that the pilot will have real-time information on where the plane is, the other aircraft in its vicinity and the shortest route to its destination,’’ says an AAI official.

As of now, planes have to follow the path along which there are ground-based systems. This will not be necessary once GAGAN becomes operational. However, with India being closer to the equator, there is what scientists call ‘‘ionospheric disturbance’’ to GPS signals. To minimise this effect, scientists have embarked on an effort to collect data and identify the pattern of electron movement. Receivers will be set up in 20 places across the country. Four have been established at Delhi, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad and Bhopal. Unlike systems in North America and Europe, the study of ionospheric effect is crucial to GAGAN.

The roadmap, as prepared by AAI and ISRO, will follow this sequence:

Technology Demonstration Systems Phase: The system will be operational over limited portion of Indian airspace by 2005. This will, however, depend on the successful flight of ISRO’s geo-stationary satellite (GSAT-4) slated for launch in the same year.

Initial Experimental Phase: The system will be extended over the entire Indian airspace by 2006. It will be available for trial and user inputs for further improvement.

Final Operational Phase: By 2007, the system will be fully operational and put up for certification by ICAO. It will provide services to the entire Asia-Pacific and be inter-operable to the three other such systems in the world, located over North America, Europe and Japan.

With India moving the proposal for its recognition during the recently concluded Air Navigation Conference at Montreal, sources say, it is only a matter of time before the ICAO gives its acknowledgement to GAGAN.

Source: Indian Express
10th October 2003
New Delhi