Two VOR navigational equipment suffered damage due to the floods, and with no backup, flight movements had to be stopped. The one near the main runway was repaired in two days, but the one near the second runway is not in good shape though engineers restored it.
A senior official of Airports Authority of India (AAI) said, “The new VOR can be used as a backup for the existing one and can also be used to guide planes to the second runway which does not have navigational aids now.” The new VOR is likely to be installed at an elevation higher than the current flood mark to prevent a shutdown.
The equipment will be brought from Allahabad. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had to struggle to restore the equipment during the floods. Signals from VOR helps overflying aircraft identify the airport and stay on course while traversing the peninsula. Air routes are designed based on the availability of these navigational equipment that transmits a radio signal, voice signal, data and the code of the airport or the ground station.
VOR and its advanced versions are crucial because they are also used as reference points by flights to identify the airport.
“The floods taught us that being close to the river, the airport may be affected again in a repeat of heavy rain and release of water from Chembarambakkam reservoir. But we do not want the navigation system to be affected,” the official said. Officials have already suggested that the height of the radar be raised.
A senior pilot said VORs are crucial for Chennai because the airport has a history of radars malfunctioning.
“It is a conventional primary navigational aid. When radar is not available, flights rely on VOR to fly into the airport,” he said.
However, foreign airports have begun to phase out VOR as satellite-based navigation is being used to fix shorter and direct air routes.