The government has accorded its approved to a proposal by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and ISRO's for the implementation of the GPS-aided geo augmented navigation (GAGAN) project for seamless navigation over Indian airspace.
The estimated project cost is around Rs774 crore. The retroactive approval has also been accorded to the amount of Rs148 crores already spent during the first phase of the project.
India would be be the fourth country in the world to have a satellite based navigation system.
Management of airspace is a sovereign function, entrusted with the AAI, which presently uses a ground-based terrestrial navigation system to provide safe navigation over Indian airspace. This system, however, suffers from site limitations and range problems.
In 1993, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had endorsed a Global Satellite Navigation System as the future air navigation system for the aviation industry, following which the AAI and ISRO entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2001 for the implementation of the GAGAN project for seamless navigation over Indian airspace.
The implementation of the GAGAN programme is being realized in two phases:
- GAGAN TDS phase (Technology Demonstration System) - to develop and demonstrate the technological capability, which was successfully tested and completed in August, 2007.
- GAGAN –FOP (Final Operation Phase) – to be implemented for operational use and to be certified by DGCA. This phase is expected to be completed by May, 2011.
Of the total project cost, Rs626 crore would be spent during the FOP phase. Of this, the AAI contribution is expected to be around Rs596 crore, funded from internal resources, and ISRO's contribution will be Rs178 crore (from ISRO Budget).
Broadly, the project which will enable better airspace management and help AAI in effective discharge of a sovereign function, and will also result in fuel savings/efficiency for airlines besides allowing higher air traffic within limited airspace.
The AAI has already spent Rs100 crore during the first phase, with ISRO chipping in Rs48 crore. Rs496 crore and Rs130 crore would be spent by the AAI and ISRO respectively in the FOP phase.
Benefits expected from the project GAGAN, apart from the development of indigenous technology, include:
- Enable aircraft to navigate on a straight path/route instead of navigating in a zig-zag path over land based stations.
- Provide coverage of oceanic areas which is not possible by terrestrial systems.
- Improve efficiency and flexibility by increasing use of operator-preferred trajectories at all altitudes.
- Increase safety by using three dimensional (3D) approach operations- enabling multiple approach capability.
- Improve airport and airspace access in all weather conditions.
- Enhance reliability and reduces delays.
- Reduce workload and improves productivity of air traffic controllers.
- Provide uniform and accurate levels of navigation performance over the entire airspace.
- Achieve greater runway capability.
- Provide fuel-efficient air corridors.
- Help in gradual phasing out of terrestrial navigation aids.
- Assist in Upper Air-space management.
- Provide CAT-I approaches without ground element support.