HAL Bangalore International Airport (ICAO: VOBG), also known as HAL Airport or Hindustan Airport, is the airport of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility at Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
The airport is used to test and develop aircraft for the Indian Armed Forces. Manufacturing and overhauling of such aircraft has averaged nearly one per day (on a company-wide, All-India basis) over the 40 year life span of the firm.
It was also a domestic and international airport serving the city. However this usage is now defunct, as its passenger usage was replaced by the new Bengaluru International Airport on 24 May 2008. It handled an estimated 7.5 million passengers a year as of 2006 and an average of at least 550 flights (takeoffs and landings) per day, earning an estimated Rs 1-1.5 billion in landing and aircraft parking fees from scheduled airlines.
Originally set up by HAL in 1964, mainly for defence purposes, operations were extended for domestic commercial flights in the 1980s while the airport started to serve international destinations in 1997. In the past decade, the airport has gone through a series of expansions and upgrades to keep pace with the growing civilian air traffic in the city. While the rated capacity of the airport was 3.6 million passengers per year it was last operating at a super saturated level of 7.5 million. Reportedly HAL requested airlines to discontinue the addition of flights to and from Bangalore some time ago.
In the mid 1990s, friction started to arise between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and HAL. AAI wanted more control over airport management which HAL refused, citing national security concerns. The HAL airport is the site of much of HAL's test and research facility. Currently, more than 50% of the Indian Air Force fleet consists of aircraft manufactured by HAL. The airport's management issue also caused contention between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Thus turf wars may have been the major problem, and not over-riding operational factors. In 2005, a private consortium, Bangalore International Airport Limited, (BIAL), in which AAI was a minority shareholder, finally started construction on the new Bengaluru International Airport. Now completed and commissioned, BIAL has replaced HAL airport as Bangalore's international and domestic airport, while HAL airport will serve only as a test and research facility for HAL. The new airport is about 35 km (22 mi) from Bangalore and a new 6-lane highway has being built to access it. Travel time can be up to 3 hours from the southern parts of the city. Hence low cost airlines are making strong representations to the Civil Aviation Minister to let them continue to use the more conveniently located HAL airport despite the contractual obligation to close down the airport's civil enclave.
Land side structure
There are separate check-in sections for domestic and international departures, and separate sections for domestic and international arrivals. The airport has two aerobridges and preference on using the aerobridges is given to international flights.
HAL Airport is relatively close to the city centre (12 km (7.5 mi)). A taxi ride from the airport to the city centre, in peak hour traffic takes between 1/2 - 1 hour.
Air side structure
HAL Airport has one runway, oriented to 90/270 degrees. There are 4 entry/exit taxiways, 2 on the east side called E2 (perimeter) and E1. Similarly there are 2 taxiways to the west side - W2 (perimeter) and W1.
There are now 5 aprons, apron 1 through apron 5. Apron 1 is the main apron, and has 10 parking bays. Bay 5 and bay 6 correspond to the 2 aerobridges. Apron 5 was opened in 2006 and has 5 bays.
ATC frequencies in use
The frequencies normally in use at VOBG are:
Most aircraft move to Chennai air traffic control (ATC) airspace immediately before or after Bangalore. Chennai ATC is operated on 119.5 MHz.
Ongoing talks have taken place since the early 1990s for upgrading Bangalore's airport to international standards and building a new airport at Devenahalli. The unprecedented growth of private low cost air carriers since 2003 has left the authorities with logistical nightmares in the terminal in supporting day to day operations. Low cost carriers like Deccan have made Bangalore a major hub, with flights connecting to smaller cities like Mangalore and Belgaum. The Bangalore-Mumbai route is growing into the second busiest in the country, second only to Mumbai-Delhi.
HAL intends to make optimal utilisation of the resources at the airport after the civilian operations shift to the upcoming international airport at Devanahalli on the outskirts of the city in mid-2008, HAL chairman told reporters;
There are varied reports about HAL's plans for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) at the airport. HAL was said to be close to signing an agreement with Pratt & Whitney Canada to launch a MRO at the airport. Earlier the foreign company had signed long term agreements with Deccan and Kingfisher Airlines for engine maintenance. The plan was to set up an MRO base for 150 engines by mid-07 and start with 50 per year. HAL are also reportedly in dialogues with Airbus as well as ATR for setting up an MRO facility at the airport. Once the upcoming international airport in Devanahalli becomes operational, HAL plans to use the existing airport for certification of HAL's own aircraft too.
Completely building a new airport (as opposed to upgrading the current HAL airport) eventually won out with the new Bangalore International Airport Limited finally being realized. Construction of the new airport began on 2 July 2005 and commercial operation began from 23 May 2008. Originally, this airport was to be able to handle 4-5 million passengers annually, with a single runway (13,517 ft (4,120 m) in length). However, given the sharp increase in passenger traffic in 2005, the airport has been redesigned so that its terminals will be able to handle 12 million passengers in the first phase. The cost of this change is estimated at Rs 4.5 billion and is funded by the private consortium.
Incidents and accidents
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