India could lease satellite-based system to neighbours: expert

New Delhi: With India moving ahead to implement satellite-based navigation system from next year, an industry expert has suggested this futuristic facility could be leased to neighbouring countries to help them navigate their air traffic.

GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) – the ambitious project jointly developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) – conducted the Final Acceptance Test in July, paving the way for its scheduled commissioning in mid-2013.

The Rs 774-crore project would enable the air traffic management system to achieve smooth transition to satellite-based seamless navigation across continents. It would cover the airspace from Australia to Africa and from southeast and west Asia to China and Russia. India would be the fourth nation after the US, Europe and Japan to have this technology.

“The technology can be leased by India to neighbouring countries to manage their air traffic as well as overflights. Leasing will generate substantial funds for India,” William Blair, President, Raytheon India, told PTI here.

In July, a team of AAI, ISRO and Raytheon completed the Final System Acceptance Test of GAGAN in Bangalore in which the actual performance of the system was demonstrated successfully.

The certification by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is scheduled soon after completion of the Operational Testing performed by AAI in 2013.

On completion of its final operational phase, GAGAN would be compatible with other similar space-based systems like Wide Area Augmentation System of the US, European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service and the Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System of Japan.

Raytheon is building ground stations for the GAGAN system, while ISRO and AAI are providing the space segment, additional ground equipment as well as participating in the integration and operation of the system.

“GAGAN will be the world’s most advanced air navigation system and further reinforces India’s leadership in the forefront of air navigation,” Raytheon Network Centric Systems Vice President Andy Zogg said in a statement.

He said GAGAN would greatly improve safety, reduce congestion and enhance communications to meet India’s growing air traffic management needs.

The GAGAN GSAT 8 GEO satellite was launched successfully from South America in May last year following the unsuccessful launch of GSAT 4 GEO satellite from India.

The satellite has now been placed in its proper slot and has successfully undergone in-orbit test. AAI, ISRO and Raytheon are currently collaborating to integrate the GEO into the GAGAN system. This activity is progressing on schedule and is due to go operational next year, Blair said.

Speaking on other technologies Raytheon has introduced in India, he said the US firm has also successfully installed the Auto Trac III system to automate the air traffic control systems at Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi’s IGI Airport.

Apart from helping reduce delays in aircraft arrival and departure, Auto Trac III also provides real-time meteorological information to assist air traffic controllers in adjusting to changing weather conditions, he said.

Raytheon was also part of the ongoing modernisation of air field infrastructure (MAFI), he said. MAFI is currently under implementation at 30 Indian Air Force airfields across the country.

For about 60 years, the US technology major has provided Indian civil aviation and military industry with a variety of technologies, including those for air traffic control, radars, automation systems, weapon-locating radars and missile defence systems.