The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has completed the installation of next-generation radar system at Bhatte Danda in Lalitpur and has invited bids for the commissioning of flight inspection, four years after the works were started.
Last Tuesday, Caan invited global bids for the flight inspection of Mode S Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR), an en-route surveillance system that can track flights up to 250 nautical miles. After conducting test, the radar is expected to come into operation by November this year.
“A technical test of the radar will be conducted in September with a special flight for 40 hours,” said Sanjeev Singh Kathayat, the project’s chief. “After the test, the radar will come fully into operation by November.”
The test will be conducted in all the routes. The cost of the test with the special flight will cost around $4,400 per hour. Eighteen air traffic controllers have already received necessary training from Japan to operate the new radar system. According to Caan, the ground test of the radar system has already been conducted. “The ground test was conducted for 360 hours and was a success,” said Kathayat.
The project was originally planned to be completed by 2015. However, the earthquake and monsoon delayed the works. It was further delayed by the severe fuel crisis as a result of an Indian blockade on Nepal last year. The fuel shortages lasted more than five months.
The project is part of the broader TIA modernisation project, under which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has provided a grant of Rs906 million.
The project has two components—installation of new radar at the TIA that would work for terminal approach aircraft and will provide radar surveillance up to 50 nautical miles and the radar in Bhatte Danda that will provide an en-route surveillance of flights up to 250 nautical miles—up to Dang in the west and the entire country in the east, north and south.
The new radar at the TIA will replace existing 18-year-old equipment.
The existing system at TIA was installed in 1997 under Japanese official development assistance. It was set up at a cost of $34 million and was last serviced at a cost of Rs42.5 million in April 2010 after a gap of 12 years, even though maintenance is required every seven years. The Japan government’s grant to modernise the TIA had come after two major crashes in 1992—Thai Airways in July and Pakistan International Airlines in September. The MSSR ensures high performance to improve reliability and safety of air transport.
Once the new system is installed, the radars will monitor small aircraft flying domestic air routes as well as international aircraft flying at high altitudes.
Besides, the radars give information about flight movement right from landing and taking off to weather conditions, aircraft identity and altitude, among others. Installation of secondary radar was proposed in 1994 when the existing radar was installed, but due to multiple reasons, the plan was grounded.