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DGCA drafts new rules for mandatory certification of defence airfields for scheduled civilian flights

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29

With the central government having made certification of defence airfields mandatory for undertaking scheduled civilian flights, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has drafted new Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for the purpose.

The certification process requires DGCA to ascertain through a systematic process whether or not a defence aerodrome has the minimum facilities and required procedures in place for operations of safe, secure, efficient and regular scheduled air transport services.

The CAR, the draft of which was released on November 24, is applicable to defence aerodromes where international scheduled air transport services are being conducted. The DGCA has sought comments from stakeholders on the draft provisions by December 23.

Certification of defence aerodromes for civilian operations is in line with international civil aviation requirements that were drafted and ratified by participating nations. All aerodromes operating scheduled civilian flights, whether owned by civilian or military agencies, need to be certified for operational and safety aspects.

The move to certify defence aerodromes for civilian operations was initiated a few years ago, but certain technical and operational issues needed to be sorted out between the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Civil Aviation. The DGCA has also, from time to time, defined procedures and issued advisories to civilian aircraft operators on flying to and from defence aerodromes.

There are 26 defence aerodromes in India which are also being used for scheduled air transport services. These aerodromes are designed and constructed by defence authorities with the establishment of civil enclave to accommodate civil aircraft and passenger facilitation but primarily to meet their own strategic requirements.

“It is also a fact that the defence authorities have their own systems in place to operate these aerodromes including their own safety oversight systems. However, these systems or operating procedures at defence aerodromes are required to be in line with the DGCA requirements for licensing of these aerodromes,” the draft says.

Under relevant provisions of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, a defence aerodrome shall not be used as a regular place of landing and departure by a scheduled air transport service, unless it has been certified as per the requirements specified by the DGCA.

For scheduled operations at defence aerodromes, according to the draft CAR, two authorities are involved. First, the defence authorities, which shall control most part of the airside areas like runway, taxiways as well as communications, navigation and surveillance systems and associated facilities.

Second is the civil authorities, which shall have control over part of the taxiways connecting the civil apron to the runway, apron management and terminal building. The responsibilities of defence and civil authorities in their respective areas shall be exclusive and absolute.

An inspection of defence aerodromes shall be carried out by a team consisting of members from the DGCA and the concerned defence aerodrome authority before the issue of certificate, which would be valid for two years unless surrendered by the holder or is suspended or cancelled by the DGCA.

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