To better prepare pilots for bad weather conditions, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is planning to provide real-time weather data to airborne aircraft.
For this, the AAI will integrate weather radar data of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) with Air Traffic Control (ATC)’s radar system.
Currently, the IMD provides weather data to ATC through phone call, message or fax. Air traffic controllers then relay it to pilots.
Currently, aircraft use primary radar data, which provide weather data with some useful snapshots only up to 60 miles. By next year, however, weather data will be transferred via software by means of a new integrated weather system (IWS) platform. This would be available in all ATC towers, allowing pilots to get real-time weather for all phases of a flight.
“The AAI is already in talks with the India Meteorological Department. They have agreed to share data with ATC. Data integration will be done once the ATC in Delhi shifts to a new tower, which is under construction by the GMR-backed airport operator,” a senior AAI official said.
A senior ATC official said the move would enable the ATC to provide better navigational guidance to pilots. “This would especially help smaller aircraft which cannot fly in inclement weather conditions,” the official said.
“The integration will be very useful in terms of air safety as the ATC will be able to see the weather data on their screens. This data can be crucial with details like runway weather, peripheral weather, visibility, temperature, cloud height and vertical visibility, which is very important for flight approach,” a senior IMD official said.
The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), operator of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, is in the process of finishing civil works on the country’s tallest ATC tower.
The tower, 102 metres tall, is expected to be ready by the end of this year. It will be commissioned by March 2015.
Once the new ATC tower is commissioned, the busiest airport in the country will also become the flight information region (FIR) for the northern region airspace, including areas such as Varanasi, Amritsar, Jodhpur and Jaipur.
“The ATC in Delhi will have everything visible in its upper airspace,” an ATC officer said.