Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Domestic carriers operating jets that are more than 15 years old will have to look for replacement soon, as the civil aviation ministry has decided to gradually phase out older aircraft to check noise level around airports. The development follows complaints from people living around the country’s busiest Delhi airport about the rising noise levels. The new rules are likely to affect foreign airlines more as they would be also be barred from flying aged jets. Most of India’s domestic carriers have relatively new fleet, including air India. “We would have almost a brand new fleet by March this year as we would have either phased out or sold our old aircraft by then,” an Air India official said adding once all the new aircraft is inducted the average fleet age would be 2-2.5 years. The government has in the past received complaints from the passengers who have alleged that some foreign carriers deploy older aircraft on India-bound flights. “Some airlines especially from Asian countries operate with older aircraft. While it is advised that air-carriers to not operate with aged jets, we are examining the legal aspect of barring such airlines from flying such aircraft to India,” a senior civil aviation ministry official. The ministry would also ask the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to specify the permissible noise level separately in the vicinity of airports in line with international norms. As per the globally accepted norms, the permissible noise is higher level in the vicinity of airports than other locations. India, however, does not differentiate between the noise level around the airport and other areas. In the last few years aircraft movement in the country has multiplied with more and more people flying on the back of growing economy and increasing incomes. The Capital’s Indira Gandhi International airport (IGI) now handles as many as 650 aircraft a day. The GMR-led consortium that is handling the Delhi airport has already introduced 24-hour aircraft noise and track monitoring system (ANTMS) to penalise erring aircraft on exceeding noise threshold values. The country’s largest airport operator Airports Authority of India (AAI) has also implemented mix mode operation to spread out the aircraft movement resulting into reduction in noise level.