The outdated instrumentation landing system (ILS) at the Srinagar airport leads to frequent cancellation of flights, officials said. As many as 100 flights have been cancelled at the airport in the past three weeks.
The ILS provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching the runway to enable its safe landing when visibility is poor, a condition common in Kashmir during winters
A civil aviation official said on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media, that flight operations take place at Srinagar airport only when there is visibility of 1000 metres because a Category 1 ILS, quite outdated, is installed here.
In other airports across the country, Category 2 and 3 ILSs have been installed, which facilitate operations even with a visibility of as low as 50 metres. At New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, an updated ILS facilitates flight operation within 50-metre visibility.
He said the current visibility criterion of 1000 metres was reduced from 1300 metres only after approach lights were installed. Accumulation of snow is not the reason for cancellation of flights, he said, because the authorities have deployed hi-tech snow clearance machines at the aerodrome.
The Airport is under the direct operational control of the Indian Air Force. The control of air traffic and that of the landing strip—including the facilities of fire-fighting and crash activities—is with the IAF while the terminal building, where the passengers check-in, is taken care of by the Airports Authority of India. The AAI also controls the apron area (where an aircraft is parked), but the airspace control is with the IAF.
Flight operations are disrupted every winter with visibility often dropping below 500 metres in December and January.
The ripple effect of any fog-induced delay in the morning often lasts for hours, experts say.