Work on IAF station may begin by March
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Talking to The Indian Express, IAF 2 Wing spokesperson said, "The peripheral work for the project is expected to start by March. The actual work pertaining to the runway will take some time."
The project is already delayed. Last year during his visit to the city, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne had announced that the project was expected to begin in Pune by November 2012.
"The pilot project in Bathinda is over. The one in Pune will start in November. The preparations have started. The building for tetra school, which trains our personnel on MAFI is ready. The work will be carried out during nights and will continue till morning, while the operations continue through the day," Browne had then said.
The MAFI project involves upgrade of 30 Air Force bases in the country. Pune is one of the airbases in phase I. The phase I was supposed to be completed within three years. The upgrade of the station is expected to benefit the civil airport as MAFI will bring some of the most modern equipment such as the instrument landing system (ILS)- with localiser antenna and guide-path buildings, both of which can enhance navigation, especially night vision.
Automated Air Traffic Control (ATC), runway lights are some of the other benefits expected, besides others. While the airport already has a Distant Measuring Equipment, there is a possibility of receiving another under the project.
Once started, the work is likely to affect the schedule of civilian flight operations. At a meeting in September last year between the MCCIA and the local IAF authorities, it was reportedly proposed that runway would remain closed from 10 pm to 8 am during the work. "It will be conveyed to them (civil airport) prior to starting the work," IAF 2 wing spokesperson said.
Last week, when this reporter asked airport director PSRK Sudhakar about the project, he said, "It is an IAF project. I do not know when it will start." S K Jain, president, MCCIA and chairman, Civil Aviation committee of the association said, "There has been no communication on MAFI. It is learnt that there are some technical issues pertaining to places where MAFI has been implemented before. Once the IAF sorts that out, the project will start in Pune."