Nepal in co-operation with USA to conduct flight inspection in Bhatte Danda

20th Sep, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct flight inspection of the next generation Mode S Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) system that is installed on Bhatte Danda in Lalitpur.

Caan said they had been holding talks to fix an appropriate date to conduct flight inspection. “We are yet to finalize the date,” said Sanjeev Singh Kathayat, the project chief. “As per our plan, the radar will come into commercial operation by mid-November.”

After the radar is switched on, air traffic controllers (ATCs) will be able to see the precise position, speed and altitude of every aircraft in range. The MSSR monitors flight movements over an area of 200 nautical miles or more. Its reach extends up to Dang in the west, and the entire eastern, northern and southern parts of the country. The existing radar at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has a reach of only 60 nautical miles.

The new radar ensures high performance to improve reliability and safety of air transport. For example, ATCs using the current radar system have to keep a horizontal separation of 10-15 nautical miles (19-28 km) between aircraft approaching TIA. The MSSR system will allow ATCs to reduce the gap between aircraft to 3-5 nautical miles (6-9 km). “This means, ATCs can accommodate more aircraft on any route at a given time which will reduce airspace congestion,” said Kathayat. “Overall, it will help to manage the traffic system.” Moreover, the radar can monitor aircraft flying low and also track aircraft behind mountain ranges, said Kathayat.

Last August, the Civil Aviation Ministry gave the go-ahead to Caan to sign a memorandum with the FAA to conduct flight inspection of the MSSR system. A technical test of the radar needs to be conducted with a special flight at an altitude of 43,000 feet. The test needs to be conducted on all routes.

The Rs906-million project was approved five years ago. The installation of a secondary radar had been proposed in 1994, but the plan was put on the backburner due to multiple reasons.

The project, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), is part of the broader Tribhuvan International Airport modernization project. The radar was installed in July 2016 after four years of work. Jica handed over the project to Caan last September.

The project was initiated in 2013 and was originally planned to be completed by 2015. The 2015 earthquake and monsoon delayed progress. It was further held up by a severe fuel crisis caused by India’s economic blockade of Nepal.