How technology can help in landing at challenging airports

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By Nate Turner, Product Manager, Honeywell Aerospace

Landing an airliner or business jet full of passengers is a huge responsibility for pilots, especially when they’re faced with adverse conditions like turbulence, brutal crosswinds, mountainous terrain and busy airspaces. Thankfully, the latest software and connectivity enabled pilot tools are improving flight safety and making landings easier for commercial and business aviation pilots with precision landing technology and new mobile applications.

In my experience, navigating mountainous terrain and valleys when flying into any airport is a daunting feat for even the best of pilots. Now imagine landing at one of the most challenging airports in adverse conditions (turbulence, brutal crosswinds, inclement weather), surrounded by mountainous terrain as well as busy runways and taxiways.

Some of the most difficult airports to fly into in India are Mangalore for its proximity to the sea and the size of its runway, Aizol and Silchar in Northeast India for their harsh weather conditions and tough terrain, as well as Leh airport for its atmospheric pressure.Chennai International Airport is India’s fourth busiest airport, and India’s first airport where international and domestic terminals are next to each other, which results in a heavy flow of passengers and creates congested air traffic. In addition to these regional difficulties, other challenges such as language barriers between foreign pilots and air traffic controllers as well as multiple planes flying at the same height can also increase safety risk and needed operational time.

To overcome these challenges, having access to high bandwidth and dependable Wi-Fi is incredibly beneficial to enable the use of iPads and apps in the cockpit. In-flight Wi-Fi has already been adopted by international airlines to achieve better accuracy, increased efficiency and more safety while flying. With Wi-Fi, flight crews can use software and device applications that enable a pilot to prepare for a landing by increasing his or her situational awareness around a destination airport. An app can provide a unique, 3-D view of an approach and decrease the use of paper maps, thereby saving operational time and overall costs. Pilots can also see runway highlights, way points and altitude constraints in 3-D to help them envision a realistic approach for landing. One platform covers everything, including weather radar systems,accurate data provision,fuel efficiency software and paperless approaches for flight.

Recently, India became the third largest aviation market for domestic passengers in the world. In addition to this growth, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has abolished the 5/20 rule to boost domestic and global airlines. Under this mandate, the government has decided to scrap a requirement which states that airlines need to have five years of domestic operations to be eligible to fly overseas. However, a carrier must have a minimum of 20 aircraft in its domestic fleet. The revised 0/20 rule will ensure that any new airlines starting business in India will essentially serve the remote parts of the country. This will take airlines to new terrains, take offs and landings where they will require efficient technological support for safer and smoother flights.

These developments – along with India’s aim to boost its aviation sector by introducing legislation like the Regional Connectivity Scheme, enhancing air-traffic management and upgrading existing airports and aircraft –will encourage airline authorities to adopt integrated services and advanced technology systems that help pilots receive accurate, up-to-date data during flight and help air traffic management work efficiently in areas with challenging conditions.

With the availability of these futuristic developments as India’s aviation market expands into new regional terrains and difficult airports, the time for airlines to adopt seamless software and technology support at the push of a button is now.

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