•      Sat Mar 2 2024

India proposes to conduct study for navigational satellite programme

Kathmandu, Aug 24: India has formally proposed to Nepal to allow it to conduct a feasibility study for the implementation of its advanced navigational satellite programme—GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN)—which is expected to improve air traffic management on the Indian subcontinent.

The Airports Authority of India has provided a draft memorandum of understanding to Nepal seeking its consent to perform the feasibility study in order to take the GAGAN expansion programme forward for mutual benefit, said Rajan Pokhrel, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

The draft was presented on the sidelines of the 56th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia and Pacific Regions which ended on Friday in Kathmandu. “We are yet to study the proposal. After that, we will hold discussions with the Foreign Ministry before reaching a final conclusion.”

India has been lobbying member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation including Nepal to join its ambitious GAGAN programme, jointly developed by the Airports Authority of India and the Indian Space Research Organisation.

India expects GAGAN to put it in the same league as the US, Europe and Japan with their advanced navigation systems. The system uses Satellite Based Augmentation System receivers during the approach, and is an alternative to the current land-based navigational aids.

Last year, the Airports Authority of India team gave a detailed presentation on the GAGAN system in Kathmandu, and explained to Nepali officials the benefits of being part of the advanced satellite navigation system developed by India.

It has been conducting various workshops for civil aviation representatives from South and Southeast Asian nations to appraise them of the performance and benefits of GAGAN, and provide them with hands-on experience of the functioning of the system for the last few years.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, both domestic and international airlines can use the system. But this will mean extra expenses for them as they need to install Satellite Based Augmentation System receivers. The civil aviation body said that they were yet to analyse the cost factor.

The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued a directive mandating GAGAN equipage on all registered Indian aircraft entering the country on or after January 1, 2019.

The Airports Authority of India said that India was among the only four nations in the world to develop and deploy this ingenious technology that removes signal errors from Global Navigation Satellite Systems and provides highly precise navigation signals to users.

Other countries that use such a system are the US, the European Union and Japan. According to reports, flight delays, diversions and cancellations can be minimised by adopting the Satellite Based Augmentation System.

Also, it enables direct flight paths and reduces the minimum separation of aircraft, which decreases the workload for pilots and controllers. Hence, air traffic can be significantly minimised, especially in busy airspaces, according to reports.

Pokhrel said that Indian and Nepali authorities had reached an understanding to facilitate ‘near-border operation’ that envisages helping Nepal for the smooth operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport, which is located close to the Indian border in the western part of Nepal.

Nepal’s second international airport has been expected to come into operation by the first quarter of 2020, although no formal date has been announced for the launch of commercial operations. (Source: The Kathmandu Post)