Flight In­spec­tion Unit Fly­ing it safe


Airports India - - NEWS -

The cal­i­bra­tions are re­quired to be done on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, so that the equip­ment may be cer­ti­fied for use. Con­sid­er­ing the vast ge­o­graph­i­cal reach of the coun­try and the range of in­stalled CNS equip­ment to be tested, the FIU is an im­por­tant ser­vice to en­sure flight safety. The need for ex­panded FIU op­er­a­tions is crit­i­cal given the in­crease in the num­ber of air­ports and the ex­pan­sion of ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties, e.g, ex­tended or new run­ways.

The ser­vices pro­vided by Flight In­spec­tion Unit (FIU) en­sure the in­tegrity of in­stru­ment ap­proaches and air­way pro­ce­dures that con­sti­tute our national airspace in­fra­struc­ture and the Air­ports Author­ity of In­dia’s (AAI) in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments as Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vice Provider (ANSP). This is accomplished through the air­borne in­spec­tion of all space and ground-based in­stru­ment flight pro­ce­dures and the val­i­da­tion of elec­tronic sig­nals in space trans­mit­ted from ground nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems.


Air­borne in­spec­tion of nav­i­ga­tional aids is a two-part op­er­a­tion, re­quir­ing the skills of highly trained flight crews. The first part is an eval­u­a­tion of the “sig­nal in space” - the ra­di­a­tion pat­tern of the nav­i­ga­tional aid. The sec­ond part is to cer­tify the in­stru­ment ap­proach pro­ce­dures that are de­signed to al­low pi­lots to safely use air­port run­ways in ad­verse weather.

Ev­ery con­tract­ing state to the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ICAO) is re­quired in terms of the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion, com­monly known as the Chicago Con­ven­tion, and its An­nexes, to en­sure the safety of nav­i­ga­tional aids at air­ports. Con­se­quently, each con­tract­ing state is obliged to pro­vide in its ter­ri­tory air­ports, ra­dio ser­vices, me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal ser­vices and other air nav­i­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties to fa­cil­i­tate in­ter­na­tional air nav­i­ga­tion, in ac­cor­dance with the stan­dards and rec­om­mended prac­tices (SARPS) es­tab­lished from time to time pur­suant to the Con­ven­tion.

In general, mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment de­sign is based on the prin­ci­ple of con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor­ing the ra­di­ate sig­nals-in-space at spe­cific points within the cov­er­age vol­ume to en­sure their com­pli­ance with the spec­i­fied stan­dards. Although, such mon­i­tor­ing pro­vides to some ex­tent, an in­di­ca­tion that the sig­nal-in-space at all other points in the cov­er­age vol­ume is sim­i­larly within tol­er­ance, this is largely in­ferred. It is there­fore es­sen­tial to carry out rig­or­ous in­spec­tions at pe­ri­odic in­ter­vals to en­sure the in­tegrity of the sig­nal-in-space through­out the cov­er­age vol­ume.

Flight In­spec­tion func­tion is car­ried out by the Flight In­spec­tion Unit (FIU) ofthe Air­ports Author­ity of In­dia, lo­cated at Saf­dar­jung Air­port, New Delhi. It en­sures that nav­i­ga­tional aids in In­dia are safe, by fo­cus­ing on two dis­tinct ar­eas: It car­ries out pre­ci­sion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the com­mis­sion­ing of newly in­stalled air nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. It pe­ri­od­i­cally checks the tech­ni­cal and op­er­a­tional pa­ram­e­ters of ex­ist­ing sur­veil­lance and nav­i­ga­tional aid in­stru­ments.


Flight in­spec­tion has long been a vi­tal part of pro­vid­ing a safer air trans­porta­tion

sys­tem. Flight in­spec­tion be­gan func­tion­ing with the de­vel­op­ment of an air­way sys­tem in the early 1920s. The con­cept is al­most as old as the air­ways them­selves. The first flight in­spec­tors flew war sur­plus open-cock­pit bi­planes, bounc­ing around with air­mail pi­lots and watch­ing over a steadily grow­ing air­way sys­tem pred­i­cated on air­way light bea­cons to pro­vide nav­i­ga­tional guid­ance. The ad­vent of ra­dio nav­i­ga­tion brought an in­creased im­por­tance to the flight in­spec­tor, as this was the only plat­form in the air that could eval­u­ate the ra­dio trans­mit­ters from where they were used.

With the de­vel­op­ment of the In­stru­ment Land­ing Sys­tem (ILS1) and the Very High Fre­quency Omni-di­rec­tional Range (VOR2), flight in­spec­tion be­came an es­sen­tial el­e­ment to ver­ify the ac­cu­racy of the sys­tem. Flight in­spec­tion has been there all along, quiet and metic­u­lous, chang­ing and de­vel­op­ing through var­i­ous govern­ment agen­cies charged with air safety. With con­tin­ued growth of air trans­porta­tion, and new tech­nolo­gies to sup­port that growth, the es­sen­tial means of flight in­spec­tion also changed, but its foun­da­tion, that of en­sur­ing avi­a­tion safety, still re­mains the same.

The re­quire­ment of Flight In­spec­tion of Nav­i­ga­tional Aids (Nav-aids) in In­dia was felt by the Di­rec­tor General of Civil Avi­a­tion (DGCA), the In­dian Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity in the year 1959. Cus­tom­ized air­craft were used for flight in­spec­tion, with ded­i­cated re­ceivers and sen­sors to col­lect data from the nav­i­ga­tional aids be­ing in­spected. In­dia started with Flight In­spec­tion ac­tiv­ity from Al­la­habad in 1959 with Dakota air­craft fit­ted with nec­es­sary re­ceivers, sig­nal gen­er­a­tors, de­flec­tion me­ters, Ink recorders, man­ual theodo­lites etc. The ini­tial Nav-aids which were in­spected in­clude AD200 VHF Di­rec­tion Finder and Lorenz VOR /Wil­cox (Dis­tance Mea­sur­ing Equip­ment) DMES.

The sys­tem had lot of short­com­ings like, clumsy ink recorder, to­tally man­ual po­si­tion­ing sys­tem, low re­peata­bil­ity and long Flight test­ing Hours. With tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment in the Elec­tron­ics field, im­proved sys­tems were avail­able and DGCA im­me­di­ately up­graded its sys­tem.

Later, the Flight In­spec­tion Unit (FIU) base was shifted to Delhi and in the year 1981-82 the sys­tem was re­placed by flight in­spec­tion sys­tem from M/s Sierra Re­search Cor­po­ra­tion, USA in­stalled in HS748 AVRO air­craft. This sys­tem was us­ing UV (Ul­travi­o­let) recorder and Ra­dio Teleme­try Theodo­lite (RTT). The sys­tem suf­ficed for the time be­ing, but had its own short­com­ings. Still the re­sult had to be man­u­ally cal­cu­lated and po­si­tion­ing ac­cu­racy de­pen­dent on man­ual track­ing ac­cu­racy. Re­peata­bil­ity was still an is­sue and Archiv­ing of In­spec­tion records was cum­ber­some. To im­prove the sys­tem per­for­mance, the Flight In­spec­tion sys­tem was re­placed in the year 1988-89 by a new (Flight In­spec­tion Sys­tem) FIS from M/s Nor­marc.

This sys­tem was built with Sin­gle Board Com­puter cards, worked un­der a com­put­er­ized data ac­qui­si­tion and pro­cess­ing en­vi­ron­ment. The sys­tems were in­stalled in newly ac­quired Dornier 228 air­crafts to re­duce op­er­a­tional cost of fly­ing HS -748. It was a semi-au­to­matic sys­tem from M/s Nor­marc us­ing Laser auto tracker, Bub­ble mem­ory cas­settes, dot ma­trix prin­ter and a ther­mal prin­ter as well. Flight In­spec­tion results could be gen­er­ated au­to­mat­i­cally with graph­i­cal print­outs. It was pro­vided with EHSI (Elec­tronic Hor­i­zon­tal Sit­u­a­tion In­di­ca­tor) dis­play for sit­u­a­tional aware­ness. This sys­tem was a jump in tech­nol­ogy for flight in­spec­tion from a man­ual en­vi­ron­ment to an au­to­mated com­put­er­ized en­vi­ron­ment. It was hav­ing bet­ter re­peata­bil­ity, data archival in dig­i­tal form, au­to­mated results, ab­sence of er­ror, lesser hours for flight In­spec­tion, bet­ter sit­u­a­tional aware­ness for the flight in­spec­tor dur­ing in­spec­tion, less work­load for flight In­spec­tor and re­sult­ing in am­ple time for scru­ti­niz­ing the col­lected data dur­ing Flight In­spec­tion.

The Nor­marc sys­tem was meet­ing most of AAI’S re­quire­ments but it was not cer­ti­fied for Cat III ILS In­spec­tion and high alti­tude re­quire­ments for Leh Air­port. The Bub­ble mem­ory cas­settes used in the sys­tem be­came ob­so­lete. In 2004, the sys­tem was re­placed by AFIS -Aero­data. 200 sys­tems from M/s Aero­data.

AAI also got one such sys­tem in­stalled in a newly ac­quired B -350 King Air air­craft to meet high alti­tude re­quire­ments. Fully Au­to­matic Flight In­spec­tion Sys­tem-afis-200 sys­tem uses GPS

Dornier DO-228 Air­crafts with AFIS-200

DGPS and LT Ground po­si­tion ref­er­ence Sys­tem

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