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Indian civil aviation industry to get a new boost of life

New Delhi. Aviation has been identified as one of the most important growth engines essential for the fast economic growth of the country, besides providing air transport for passengers and goods. Civil aviation facilitates overall economic growth of the country including trade & commerce, domestic & foreign investments, transfer of technology, creation of infrastructure, domestic & international tourism and generation of employment.

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Ajit Singh says that the Government’s decision to allow 49% FDI by foreign airlines in Indian carriers will help in rapid growth of the airline sector in India.

He stated that adoption of a liberal policy to allocate traffic rights to private Indian carriers to various international destinations in addition to Air India, allowing Indian carriers to import ATF, approval of Turn Around Plan (TAP) for Air India, upgradation and development of airports, development of navigation system GAGAN and steps taken to create separate Air Accident Bureau, are all aimed at re-energise the sagging aviation industry in India.

Speaking at the Economic Editor’s Conference recently, he informed that the future plans of the Ministry include rationalization of price of ATF by getting it declared as a notified product, improving connectivity to smaller and remote parts of the country, enhancement of helicopter connectivity, developing India as an international hub, developing low cost airports, creation of Civil Aviation Authority, creation of Civil Aviation Security Force and skill augmentation in Civil Aviation sector.

One of the major challenges of the air traffic industry in India is the high and growing debt burden of the carriers.
Nearly half of the debt is aircraft related and the rest is accounted for by working capital loans, dues to airport operators and fuel companies. While there are number of structural factors that are responsible for this phenomenon, the operating cost environment is adversely impacting the financial performance of the airline sector.

Though there is a slow-down of global economy, the international passenger traffic in India has witnessed a growth of 5.4% during the period from January–August 2012 . From 22.1 million in January – August 2011 to 23.3 million January – August 2012 . However, the number of domestic passengers during the period for January-August 2012 remains almost the same as in 2011. 39.63 million January – August 2011 39.82 million January – August 2012.

India’s GPS aided GEO augmented Navigation system known as GAGAN developed by AAI with the support of ISRO with an estimated cost approximately 151 million USD is likely to be rolled out by July 2013.

This would bring India on threshold of redefining navigation in the region from land-based to satellite based system.

India is the only fourth country in the world after USA, Japan and Europe to have such navigation system, observed William Blair, head of Raytheon India, whose company is providing the ground units for this highly advanced navigation system.

This will be helpful for landing aircraft in tough weather & terrain like Mangalore and Leh airports. This will also help in reducing flying time and fuel consumption by providing straight navigation.

GAGAN is designed to provide the improved accuracy, availability and integrity necessary to enable users to rely on GPS for all phases of flight, from en-route through approach for all qualified airports within the GAGAN service volume. GAGAN will also provide the capability for increased accuracy in position reporting thereby permitting more uniform and high quality Air Traffic management (ATM).

In addition, GAGAN will provide benefits beyond aviation to all modes of transportation including maritime, highways, railroads and public services such as defense services, security agencies, telecom industry and personal users of position location applications. Flight inspection of GAGAN signals are being carried out at Kozhikode, Hyderabad, Nagpur & Bangalore airports and the results have been satisfactory so far.

The Government meanwhile has taken steps to establish a separate Air Accident Bureau to efficiently investigate the accidents and to recommend effective corrective measures.

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