Saifai airstrip to be upgraded for night flights

The state government is going to upgrade the airstrip in Etawah district's Saifai town for night operations of flights. Saifai is the home town of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

A team of Airport Authority of India has already inspected the airstrip on the request of the UP government that has asked the AAI to estimate the project cost.

The airstrip is mostly used for landing of state aircraft of Mulayam, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav or their VVIP guests. SP leaders and Bollywood stars also fly to Etawah for Saifai Mahotsav.

The airstrip is currently uncontrolled and has no lights on the runway. Surrounded by a boundary wall, It only has a VIP lounge. As per international standards, the airstrip falls in the category of private aerodromes.

For night operations, navigation aides and special runway lights would be installed on the runway and AAI will set up an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower. There will be an office of ATC with trained staff to advise pilots for safe landing and take-off at night.

After a letter from the Civil Aviation Department recently, a team of AAI officials led by Executive Director (Planning) Kalpna Sethi inspected the airstrip a few days ago. They were accompanied by the Director of Civil Aviation in UP government Devendra Swaroop, Special Secretary S K Raghuvanshi and officials of Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) Limited that is at present recarpeting the airstrip.

Officials said the recarpeting is being done after six years in keeping with the norms of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a specialised agency of United Nations that sets standards for aviation safety, efficiency and regularity.

An official in the UP Civil Aviation Department said the AAI has been asked to list equipment required for the upgrade as well as their cost.

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