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Birsa Munda Airport readies for big take-off

Inline-luggage scan, more tarmacs & check-in counters on cards
Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi on Thursday.

Animesh Bisoee   |   Ranchi   |   Published 16.01.20, 06:39 PM

Good news for flyers who use Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Airport.

From May-end, an automated inline screening system will spare flyers the trouble of standing in a queue to get their check-in luggage scanned while six extra parking bays will start functioning from this month-end.

A senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official who is monitoring the installation of the inline scanner at the Birsa airport said they had the equipment, including the advanced computer tomography X-ray (CTX) machines that airports use to check explosives. “But it would not be before May-end that the automated inline screening system starts as the whole system has to receive a nod from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the nodal agency in the country to ensure safety in flights,” he said.

He added: “According to norms, we have to get the system tested by the transportation security administration, a unit of US Department of Homeland Security (that was set up after the 9/11 terror attacks).”

In an automated inline scanning system, a piece of luggage deposited at the check-in counter goes through the X-ray machines on a conveyor belt. The belts are fitted with cameras and sensors that create images of the luggage with barcode. The luggage is screened in a control room manned by trained security personnel.

The first screener has to take the decision of passing or segregating a bag within 15-20 seconds. Once a bag is categorised as suspect, it is shifted from the channel to another belt where it then passes through a conventional X-ray machine. The second screener gets more time to review the image. Then, and if the screener is not satisfied, the owner will be called to open the bag.

“We have the equipment and will soon start the process of installing the inline screening system at the airport. It will be save flight passengers from waiting in queue at the check-in points for their luggage. Once installed, passengers will go to the check-in or check-out counters, deposit their luggage and straightway take the boarding pass. The luggage after scanning will be deposited at the boarding point,” said the airport director Vinod Kumar Sharma.

The number of flyers at Birsa airport has grown exponentially. In 2014, 6 lakh passengers used the airport. In 2019, the number had surpassed 22 lakh.

In 2014, there were 11 flights, now there are 29.

To handle the rush, airport authorities have also drawn up plans to increase the check-in counters from the existing 14 to 16.

Six additional parking bays, known as aprons or tarmacs, will also start functioning from this month-end.

“We have approval from the DGCA to operate the extra six parking bays at the Birsa airport and will start it by the end of this month. This will take the number of parking bays for planes to 11 from the existing five,” said Vinod Kumar Sharma.

A parking bay or apron is the area of an airport where an aircraft is parked, unloaded or loaded and re-fueled.

The Ranchi airport apron at the moment has the capacity for three Airbus A-320 planes and two 19 seater ATR planes and the new apron facility will make it possible for five Airbus planes and one ATR plane to be parked at one time. After the change, eight Airbus and three ATR planes will be parked at a time at the airport.


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