Kathmandu, March 13
A high-voltage electricity transformer was stolen from the restricted area at Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa, affecting regular power supply to the major aviation navigation equipment for a week.
According to a source at GBA, flight operation department officials noticed the dysfunctional status of the VHF omni-directional range and distance measuring equipment (VOR-DME) on March 7 after 11 kilovolt power transformer was stolen from the airport premises.
VOR is a type of radio navigation system for aircraft which broadcast a VHF radio composite signal, including the station’s morse code identifier and data, allowing the airborne receiving equipment to derive a magnetic bearing from the station to the aircraft while DME is a transponder-based radio navigation technology that measures distance by timing the propagation delay of VHF or UHF radio signals.
Air traffic controllers feared that the sensitive equipment used for ground-based navigational aids could be non-functional anytime causing a serious navigation problem in the airport.
According to them, GBA is now operating an old generator in the daytime rather than installing a new transformer that costs less than Rs 7 lakhs.
“How can a power back-up generator operate VOR–DME for more than a week as the equipment must be made operational round the clock?” asked an ATC officer. The GBA uses 114.7 MHz frequency to handle navigation works.
Bhairahawa incident also reveals the sheer negligence on part of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, which operates airports across the country, for not timely replacing the transformer, according to an operation manager of a private airline.
Without sharing details, Arjun Bahadur Gurung, Maintenance Officer at GBA, has confirmed that 11 kilovolt power transformer was stolen on March 7. Airport manager Shishil Chitrakar refused to comment, saying police investigation was on.
According to district police office in Bhairahawa, the investigation is under way. “The culprits have not been identified yet,” an officer told this daily, saying the incident occurred in the restricted area.
A version of this article appears in print on March 14, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.