the-south-asian Life & Times          October -December 2009



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AAI – developing world class airports


Gp Capt Devinder. C. Mehta

Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) plans to upgrade and modernize airports are now well under way, with important improvements already completed or under construction at all major airports. The ultimate goal is to transform airports in India into world-class facilities, so they can meet the future needs of travellers and aircraft alike.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is single-handedly responsible to improve the security, safety, capacity, and efficiency of airports in India. The volume and nature of air traffic have changed dramatically since the time most airports were first constructed, necessitating replacement with more modern and efficient facilities. Many of the aging airports were not designed for the rapidly increasing volume of commercial air traffic or to meet the heightened security requirements. The primary focus of all AAI projects is to address these immediate needs by improving terminals, increasing safety and capacity of the airport, and improving operational efficiency.

The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) also known as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was the agency that inherited, at the time of independence in 1947, most of the aerodromes (as airports were then called) in the country except for a few that were taken over by the Indian Air Force for purposes of military aviation. Civil aviation, as is understood today, was almost non-existent at the time. The airport infrastructure catered for small/medium size piston engine aircraft with negligible navigation and landing aids. The CAD/DGCA inherited these war-torn airports - with a great potential for infrastructure improvement.

With the advent of technology, and civil aviation becoming more mainstream, upgradation of infrastructure became imminent. Accordingly, in 1972 the International Airports Authority of India was carved out of CAD/DGCA with the sole aim to develop the four international airports at Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta so as to meet the requirements laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation for air transport operations. With passage of time, civil aviation having got its rightful place in our country, it was felt that the remaining 124 airports also require to be developed to meet the aspirations the aviation fraternity in particular and the air travelling population at large. Yet again, in 1985, the National Airports Authority was carved out of CAD/DGCA with the responsibility to maintain and develop all civil airports in the country. It was in 1994 that both NAA and IAAI were merged. It may, therefore, not be incorrect to state that "AAI is the Mainstay of Civil Aviation".

Read the complete article in the print issue of SALT




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