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Explained: How night flights have been enabled at the Srinagar airport

On Friday, the first-ever night flight by a commercial operator took off from Srinagar airport. What went into starting night operations at Srinagar airport?

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 24, 2021 9:14:04 am
Srinagar airport, night landing, Srinagar night flights, Srinagar flight timings, GoAir Srinagar, Indian ExpressGoAir operated the first-ever night flight from Srinagar to Delhi on March 19, 2021. (Twitter/@goairlinesindia)

On Friday, the first-ever night flight by a commercial operator took off from Srinagar airport. Starting post-sunset flight operations is mainly coming together of two factors — technical feasibility and permissions from authorities.

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What went into starting night operations at Srinagar airport?

In August 2018, a test flight landed at Srinagar airport after sunset, demonstrating that the airport is safe for night landing. In Srinagar’s case, an upgrade of the runway lighting system at the airport, and an extension of watch hours by the Indian Air Force, to which the airport belongs, kick-started the process. The Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport at Srinagar belongs to the Indian Air Force, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) manages the civilian enclave that includes a passenger terminal building and a civil apron.

How is the decision to start night operations at an airport taken?

It is usually the AAI, which manages most of the airports in India, that takes up a particular one for consideration for providing night landing facilities, once airlines have shown an interest in post-sunset operations. After the clearance from the aviation safety regulator came in, airlines were allowed to operate flights until 10 pm. Prior to that, the last flight landed in Srinagar at 5.15 pm. The last outbound flight from Srinagar took off at around 5.45 pm. Friday’s GoAir flight to Delhi took off at 7.15 pm.

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How will the decision to extend flying hours at Srinagar airport help the city?

According to Jammu & Kashmir’s Principal Secretary Industries & Commerce Ranjan Prakash Thakur, with this development, the long-pending demand of tour and travel operators has been fulfilled and it will substantially help in the economic growth of Jammu and Kashmir as the tourism sector forms the core of the economy here, PTI reported.

What technical facilities are needed to make night-flights possible?

The most significant technical requirement for night landing is that the runway approach lighting system includes a series of light bars with strobe lights installed at the end of the runway. Such a system serves a runway that is equipped with an instrument landing system or ILS. ILS uses a series of navigational aids to help pilots land the aircraft if they cannot establish visual contact with the runway. It is also important for airport operators to have lighting along the runway edge so that pilots landing at night are able to make visual contact and align the aircraft with the centre of the runway.

Is there any requirement on part of the airlines?

Simply installing the lighting system at airports is not enough. Airlines have to use aircraft that are compliant with the latest systems and engage pilots who are trained to make instrument-based landing. Most major airlines flying frequently out of airports that experience low-visibility conditions, in fact, do have the relevant aircraft. Generally, however, they tend to train only those pilots who will be flying to these airports regularly.

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