Tata Power SED has signed a 1,200 crore contract to modernize 37 airbases operated by the Indian Navy (IN), the Indian Coast Guard (ICg) and the Indian Air Force (Indian Air Force). The contract, signed between key officials of Tata Power and India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), includes upgrading the landing and air-traffic-control infrastructure of the selected airfields. The work is expected to take four years to complete.

In March 2011, a similar contract for refreshing 30 airfields signed between the MOD and Tata Power’s SED team was completed successfully. The 2011 upgrade plan was called Modernization of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) Phase 1. The recently-inked contract is part of Phase 2 of MAFI. During the tenure of the contract, the project is expected to support 250 medium, small & micro enterprises (MSMEs) because it will include key components that can only be sourced from small-scale, low-volume extremely high-tech suppliers.

Of import is the fact that the airbases selected for upgrades will now be equipped with Category 2 Instrument Landing Systems and Category 2 Airfield Lighting Systems. As such, an instrumented landing system combines signals from a localizer, range markers, beacons and other landing apparatus to ensure an accurate glideslope while landing. There are three types of ILS systems in use, and they’re set apart by their accuracy and decision height or DH — the minimum height which serves as a point of no return for an approaching aircraft. Typically, an ILS works in conjunction with an airfield lighting system.

The Cat II ILS has a DH of less than 200 feet, but not less than 100 feet, with visibility minimums or minimum runway visual range of between 1,800 feet and 1,200 feet. Use of a Cat II ILS requires certain additional aircraft equipment, ground facilities, and pilot training. They require that the crew visually spot the approach lights — and, eventually, other runway environment cues — in order to safely continue to a landing by visual reference alone. In other words, the landing pilot must be able to properly judge the flare point, make the landing, and execute the rollout visually.

The approach lights, which are also part of the MAFI-Phase 2 upgrade plan, involve a lighting system installed on the approach end of an airport runway and a series of light bars, strobe lights, or a combination of the two that extends outward from the runway end.

The lighting systems, like the ILS, need to follow a certain code. Pure white lights are preferred for aerodrome use, but LED lights with alternating white and green flashes can also be used. The Airfield Lighting System utilizes the following types of lights:

  1. Extended centerline lights extending 900m from the runway threshold
  2. Two side row of lights extending 270m from threshold
  3. Two crossbars, located at 150 m and 300 m from the threshold.
  4. Runway Threshold Lights placed every 3m
  5. Wing Bar Lights
  6. Runway End Lights (all red, minimum six units)
  7. Runway Centerline Lighting
  8. Displaced Threshold Lighting (to differentiate the taxiway from the rollout area)
  9. Taxiway Edge Lights (all blue)
  10. Intermediate holding position lights
  11. Runway Guard Lights
  12. Apron floodlighting
  13. Visual docking guidance systems

At the time of writing, the company is in the process of completing an internal transfer, after which the Tata Advanced Systems Limited will be in control of the Strategic Engineering Division.


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