VP Agrawal took over as chairman of the Airports Authority of India on
January 1, 2009. Holding vast experience in engineering with specialization in
airport planning, expansion, and modification, management and passenger
facilitation, he has played an important role in the modernization and
upgradation of airports in India. He is also associated with the setting up of
greenfield airports in the country including provision of state-of-the-art
CNS/ATM equipments and the prestigious Geo Aided GPS Augmented Navigation (GAGAN)
Project, and introduction of performance based navigation (PBN) procedures at
Delhi and Mumbai airports. He was associated with major engineering site
preparation works for upgradation and automation of ATS systems at Indias
gateway airportsDelhi and Mumbai.
Top on his agenda going forward is implementation of the new integrated
ATS automation system at Chennai and Kolkata airports, tower automation for
major airports in India, RADAR networking and efficient air traffic flow
management to achieve seamless surveillance coverage of continental air space.
That are some of the milestones in terms of IT infrastructure and
management that have been achieved in major airports in India?
Well, we at AAI have taken many initiatives in IT in the last couple of
years, which has undoubtedly manifested not only in enhanced performance but
also made the systems user friendly: provision of IT Intranet at more than
seventy-five airports with MPLS based VPN connectivity; voice over IP telephony
services at airports, implementation of Airport Information Management System
(AIMS) at seventy-five airports, use of GIS technology for GIS based land and
asset management system (GLAMS) at eighteen airports and ATS automation system
for thirty-eight airports.
In addition to these, we have deployed various cutting-edge IT applications
for streamlining the day to day functions of AAI. We have consolidated and
virtualized in both Unix and Windows based environment for optimized use of
existing server infrastructure; we actively use enterprise management tools for
network, VPN, server, database, mail/messaging monitoring and management
including use of application performance management tool to ensure code
optimization. We have also deployed SAN/NAS for enterprise wide data
accumulation for various IT enabled applications and files. Some of the other
key IT initiatives include use of GIS technique for land & asset management and
for height clearance process for high rise buildings, mast and chimneys near
about airports and air routes; use of Intranet portal for document collaboration
and work flow based routine processes, use of web based enterprise wide project
management for efficient handling of large value projects. In addition, we have
also participated in proof of concept trials for Common Use Passenger Processing
How is AAI tackling the increased security and screening requirements at
airports in India?
Appropriate contingency plans have been evolved and are in place. The
initiatives include installation of state-of-the-art digital security
surveillance CCTVs at most of the hyper-sensitive airports.
The use of video analytics software is providing an edge in handling security
issues with ease and efficiency. Perimeter intrusion detection systems are also
underway, as is in-line baggage handling system with 5 level scanning
capability. Smart card and biometrics based access control systems at fifteen
hyper sensitive airports is in the pipeline. The access control system will be
in line with latest technical specifications being finalized by BCAS. Finally,
we are implementing an airport operational database and airport operations
control center at key airports to share CCTV footage and other operational
parameters for timely and effective handling of airport incidents and security
How many airports in India are Cat III compliant? To what extent do you
feel this will bring down fog induced delays and accidents?
At present we only have one airport, Delhi, which is Cat III compliant. Just
providing Cat III ILS at any airport would serve no purpose, as you would
appreciate that the expenditure incurred in provisioning of any facility ought
to commensurate with the utility, ie, the traffic at the airport and also the
capability of the airline operator to utilize the facility. There is no denying
the fact that availability of Cat III facility does considerably assist the
airline operator to operate in low visibility.
According to you, does the IT needs vary depending on whether a project is
a greenfield airport or a brownfield airport?
For a brownfield airport, ensuring the use of existing systems by proper
integration with latest IT based tools is really a big challenge. Moreover,
airlines, concessionaires, ground handlers and other agencies operating at an
existing airport do have their own dedicated IT infrastructure in place for
their day to day operations. In such a scenario, it becomes an operational
challenge to provide a common shareable IT infrastructure and IT enabled
services to all stakeholders at an airport. Migrations from existing systems and
applications in use to proposed new IT systems have both operational and cost
What are the key functions and activities in an airport where you believe
IT plays a critical role today?
With the availability of newer IT based systems and applications including
AODB and AOCC, it has now become practically possible to integrate inputs from
all the IT based systems and an airport under the control of various
stakeholders including ATC, airlines, concessionaires, customs, immigration,
ground handling agencies, meteorological department, security setup, etc. Though
IT based systems were available at airports under the control of different
agencies operating at an airport, these systems were working in silos.
Are you exploring any next gen concepts with your consultants and domain
AAI has already undertaken a leading step as a part of modernization of
Kolkata, Chennai and other thirty-five non-metro airports. Some of the new
terminal buildings have already been put into operations, whereas construction
activities are in final stages at other remaining airports. Simultaneously, AAI
is taking up projects for use of IT based system for airport management at
Kolkata, Chennai and other thirty-five non-metro airports in a phased manner.
Apart from this centralized systems for airport operational database (AODB),
FIDS and resource management system and common use IT network and VoIP telephony
shall be provided at airports. We have sufficient domain knowledge and know-how
available in-house to design and implement these projects.