Nepal | July 03, 2020

Noise pollution hits TIA operations

Rajan Pokhrel
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Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA)

Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: THT/File

Kathmandu, August 28

Stakeholders have strongly criticised the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal for its failure to effectively handle automatic terminal information system at Tribhuvan International Airport.

Users also claimed that a recently installed diesel back-up generator right beside the air traffic control tower and the adjoining airline operations building had been polluting the TIA environment.

The automatic terminal information system, an automated system operating at very high frequency-127.0 MHz- to convey current routine information to arriving and departing aircraft, is required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to have a range of 200 nautical miles, but the service is barely audible when international airline flights approach the skies over Simara, situated a mere 50 nautical miles, to begin their descent to Kathmandu, a senior pilot with an international airline said.

The safety oversight inspectors of CAAN looked the other way during the installation and maintenance of the under-powered facility. “In this case, CAAN inspectors cannot and do not say no, when it comes to regulating their own colleagues,” a TIA source said.

Sensitive air navigation equipment, including that for communications, surveillance and navigation of aircraft, are required by law to be operated and maintained by licensed personnel only, even if they are CAAN’s permanent staff, in line with ICAO provisions.

The provisions for air traffic safety electronics personnel licenses is to ensure standardised maintenance of equipment and accountability for any possible violations.

“However, many critical air navigation equipment, especially communications, at TIA continue to be illegally operated by unauthorised personnel, who interestingly, have been deliberately instructed by the TIA management,” a senior CAAN director said.

The regulatory department for air navigation service continued to turn a blind eye to such glaring instances of non-compliance and it was merely content with conducting superficial audits of the service providers, he admitted.

Interestingly, the TIA which recently installed a 2-crore worth 1000 KVA diesel back-up generator right beside the control tower and adjoining the airline operations building has now been more of a burden for the users as it generates loud noise.

The procurement of the generator went through an elaborate process including factory acceptance by qualified engineers, but the noise levels now evident were either overlooked on instructions from above or those deputed for the tests were hard of hearing, a senior ATC shared.

TIA’s General Manager Devanand Upadhyay also admitted that the generator was not placed in a proper location. “TIA will consult with technicians to minimise its sound level soon,” he said.

“On the one hand, in response to a series of air accidents, the CAAN pretends to crack the whip on airline operators for improving safety  more frequent ramp inspections and grounding the erring crew and sometimes aircraft,” a private airline station manager commented, “While on the other, CAAN merrily looks the other way when it comes to glaring instances of non-compliance by its aerodrome services provider units as well as its air navigation maintenance personnel.”

A version of this article appears in print on August 29, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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