Minimum Safety Requirements for Temporary/Unlicensed Aerodromes.

Rule 78 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 requires licensing of such aerodromes that are used as regular place of landing and departure by a scheduled air transport service or for a series of landings and departures by any aircraft carrying passengers or cargo for hire or reward. Further, sub rule (4) of the said rule stipulates that no person shall operate or cause to be operated any flight from a temporary aerodrome or an aerodrome which has not been licensed or approved, as the case may be, under these rules unless it meets the minimum safety requirements laid down by the Director-General.

There are number of existing aerodromes (air strips) in India which are not being used on regular basis for aircraft operations. These aerodromes, by virtue of limited facilities, usage and being in existence and in operation cannot be equated with fully compliant aerodromes. The list of some of such aerodromes is available in AIC 18/1986. Such aerodromes sometimes are having only a runway and are normally owned by state government or other entities which are having their limited use. However, such owners extend their use on regular basis to aircraft operators without assuming the responsibility for operational aspects/ facilities at the aerodromes. Regulatory oversight cannot be performed over such aerodromes due to various factors e.g. periodicity of operation, geographical location, large number of such sites.

Note: Any aerodrome constructed and in operation prior to 1st Sept. 1992, (i.e. date of issue of AIC No. 22 of 1992) will be considered as an existing aerodrome for this purpose. 
When an aerodrome not licensed or approved is being used privately, the pilots, who are well aware of the performance characteristics of their aircraft, should also take note that the aerodrome dimensions, facilities and operating practices are appropriate and proportionate for the intended operations.

It is a common practice that usage of such aerodromes is permitted by the owner with or without assuming any responsibility regarding the availability of minimum facilities. Therefore, it is imperative to ascertain that minimum facilities required for safe aircraft operations are available at site. Due to this reason, it has been made obligatory in CAR, Section 8, Series ‘O’ Part II & III, Operation of Commercial Air Transport/ General Aviation – Aeroplanes, on part of operator/ Pilot-in-Command, to ensure that a flight will not be commenced unless it has been ascertained by every reasonable means available that the ground and/or water facilities available and directly required on such flight, for the safe operation of the aircraft and the protection of the passengers, are adequate for the type of operation under which the flight is to be conducted and are adequately operated for this purpose.

The guidelines provided in this CAR are generic in nature for private aircraft operators; however, the NSOP holder may carry out safety assessment and adopt mitigation measures prior to operating isolated passenger flight. Only those operations which are undertaken by aircraft registered under private category shall be considered as private aircraft operations.

The aim of this CAR is to provide guidance on minimum safety requirements at existing aerodrome not licensed/approved. However, new aerodromes are not intended to cover under this CAR. The CAR is issued under the provisions of Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 in pursuance to sub rule (4) of Rule 78.

Minimum Facilities at the Aerodrome/ landing sites 

The uncontrolled aerodromes are generally used for day VFR operation. Therefore, the facilities required for aircraft operations need to meet the specifications required for such operations. The aerodrome should have following facilities for the intended aircraft operation and endeavor should be made to ensure that they are meeting to the specifications provided for such facilities in the Civil Aviation Requirements Section 4, Series ‘B’ Part –I, to the extent possible.

Runway: Runway should be capable of withstanding the traffic requirement for aeroplanes the runway is intended to serve.The physical condition of the runway surface should be free of irregularity, pot holes so that not to cause damage to the aircraft. There should be level and graded area sufficient to provide safeguard and minimize damage in case of runway excursions, beyond the runway limits in lieu of runway strips. In case of operations of aircraft having AUW more than 5700 kgs, it is desirable that runway strength is available in terms of PCN.

The marking on runway should be visible from the air to identify the runway, designation, centerline and limits of the landing area.

 Taxiways: Where provided, the taxiways should be capable to meet the aircraft performance characteristics for exit and entry into the runway and should be equipped with guidance for ground movement of the aircraft.

Aprons: Where provided, Aprons of sufficient size to permit the parking of the aircraft and boarding/de-boarding of passengers without causing interference on other aircraft operations.

Signal Area. Since, uncontrolled aerodromes are not having provision for air to ground communication, it is imperative that a Signal area shall display at least Landing Direction Indicator and Aerodrome Identification Sign to indicate runway in use and the identification of the aerodrome. The signal area shall be an even horizontal surface at least 9 m square. The colour of the signal area shall be chosen to contrast with the colours of the signal panels used, and it shall be surrounded by a white border not less than 0.3 m wide.

Wind Direction Indicators: A wind sock, clearly visible from the air, and positioned so as to indicate a representative direction and strength, should be provided. The aerodrome owner should avoid locations close to trees or buildings or where terrain may cause an unrepresentative indication, and ensure it will not interfere with aircraft taking off or landing.

Obstacles: For the safety of the aircraft operation it is essential that at least approach and take off surface are free of obstacles. The obstacle in the vicinity of the runway should be clear of safety area provided for aircraft excursion. In the ideal condition the slope requirement for approach path for non-instrument runway is 3.33% and required to be provided up to 2.5km. Any obstacle protruding in the approach/ take off surface would severely impact the aircraft operation and impose operational restrictions.

Any structure that, because of its height or position, could be a hazard to an aircraft landing or taking off should be conspicuously marked if it cannot be removed or minimised. Unregulated growth of obstacles may render the aerodrome unusable and therefore impact of obstacles needs to be assured by the aircraft operator in order to ensure the safety of aircraft operations.

RFFS Provision: The RFFS, if provided, should be available throughout the hours of aircraft operation and for 15 minutes after the departure of the last aircraft or until the aircraft has reached its destination, whichever is the earlier. Prrotection of site 
Availability of fence or other suitable barrier to prevent the entrance to the movement area of animals large enough to be a hazard to aircraft.

General Safety Requirements 

Prior permission from owner of the air strip should be obtained by the aircraft operator before operation.
It is in the interest of airport owner and aircraft operators that a procedure is developed for visiting pilots for indicating the availability of the facility, procedures for approach, landing/take off and warning on hazards associated with the aerodrome. A requirement to obtain prior permission before landing will facilitate such hazard warning by allowing visiting pilots to be briefed. Such information may also be usefully included on the aerodrome’s website, if one exists.

Based on the information available through the aerodrome operator or any other reliable source, the aircraft operator may develop an SOP in case the operations to the aerodrome are not restricted for one time operation.
Subject to the number of movements, system for communicating with aircraft from ground to communicate essential information, either through walkie-talkie/VHF/ aldies lamp, is desirable. Aircraft operator / aerodrome owner may either provide facilities themselves or designate/assign the responsibility to a person for safety of aircraft operations, passengers and people on ground.

When such place is used by aircraft carrying VIP, all instructions issued from time to time in this regard shall be complied with during such operations.

The aircraft operator shall file the flight plan and ensure that meteorological conditions are appropriate to the type of operation before originating flight from such aerodromes.

Necessary arrangement for picketing /mooring of aircraft should be made for overnight parking as well as at aerodromes likely to be affected by strong winds/weather.

First aid facility as minimum medical requirement may be provided at the aerodrome and also arrangements with locally available medical facilities may be made to deal with emergencies.

Passenger services facilities and Security requirements 

The aircraft operator should ensure arrangement for minimum facilities/ amenities for the passenger facilitation.
Necessary arrangements shall also be made available for escort of passengers to and from the aircraft parking area.
The aircraft operator shall ensure that security requirements are complied with as per the approved Security Manual.