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Giant communication black hole over Bay of Bengal almost brought under coverage

Pilots have been flying actually blind for nearly 40 minutes over a 2.6 lakh sq km oceanic airspace, a giant communication black hole.

And now, following an agreement between Indian and Myanmarese aviation authorities, the grey zone over the Bay of Bengal has now shrunk to 69,000 sq km, cutting by half the blind flying time the data from flight tracking instruments on two Myanmar islands — Coco & Sittwe — being made available to controllers in Kolkata..

India, in return, has made the data from Agartala and Port Blair available to controllers in Myanmar. This is India’s first successful project in sharing flight surveillance data with a neighbouring country.

Controllers in Kolkata can now track the 260 flights that cross the sea daily, carrying over 50,000 fliers between countries in South East Asia and those to its west including South Asia, West Asia, Europe and the US. Earlier, controllers were unable to guide pilots as they crossed gigantic oceanic airspace as there was no live flight tracking coverage with technologies like radar or Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).

Due to the absence of Indian islands on the Bay of Bengal, we could not install radars or ADS-B that limited our coverage over the oceanic airspace. With the two ADS-Bs on Myanmarese islands now providing live data to area controllers in Kolkata, the safety of flights will increase. Flights will also be able to take shorter routes that will in turn lead to reduction in carbon footprint of these flights,” said Airports Authority of India air navigation services (ANS) member Vineet Gulati.


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