DGCA issued warning during a meeting with stakeholders held earlier this week
The government has warned domestic airlines of `consequences' if they did not adopt the Rs 774 crore GPS-Aided Geo Aug mented Navigation system. The warning came during a meeting called by the DGCA earlier this week with all stakeholders, including the airlines, who have not availed of the system even 18 months after its launch.Jointly developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI), at an investment of Rs 774 crore, the GAGAN system was officially launched by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju in July last year. It is said to make airline operations more efficient and cut down costs as it reduces separation between aircraft, increases air safety and fuel efficiency. The National Civil Aviation Policy, announced by the government in June, makes it mandatory for all aircraft registered in India from January 1, 2019 to be GAGAN-enabled.
A notice issued by the DGCA dated December 19 stated that most aircraft registered in India are still not equipped with this technology. "This assumes significance as many airlines and operators have placed orders for many more aircraft which may not be equipped with necessary airborne equipment and thus not be GAGANcompliant," DGCA director general B S Bhullar said.
However, in order for the domestic airlines to availing of the GAGAN system, they would have to make their aircraft GAGAN-compliant, which would entail a huge investment on their part.
A DGCA source said that while smaller aircraft like ATRs and Bombardiers which are currently in the Indian carriers' fleet are already equipped with the GAGAN system, bigger planes such as the Airbus A320, A330, Boeing 737, B777 and B 787s, among others, need to be retrofitted. Eight major domestic carriers - Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways, JetLite, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia - have a total of 427 such planes currently in service.
"An airline will have to shell out as much as Rs 1-2 crore per aircraft to install the GAGAN system. Going by the number of planes that need to be retrofitted, the minimum investment will be at least Rs 400 crore," the source said.
According to an ISRO spokesperson, GAGAN's GEO footprint extends from Africa to Australia and has expansion capability for seamless navigation services across the region. "GAGAN provides the additional accuracy, availability, and integrity necessary for all phases of flight, from en route through approach for all qualified airports," the spokesperson said.
The system is inter-operable with other international satellite based tracking systems such as the WAAS (US), EGNOS (Europe) and MSAD (Japan).