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"Proposed pilots academy site may be shifted"

Special Correspondent

Operational and technical problems in air corridor over Sriperumbudur cited

CHENNAI: Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran on Saturday said the Centre was exploring the possibility of shifting the site of the proposed Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Aeronautical Science and Training and Pilots Academy from Sriperumbudur to Vellore, as "operational and technical problems in the air corridor" over Sriperumbudur had been brought to its notice.

He was addressing a function at Raj Bhavan where a special postal cover was released by Tamil Nadu Governor S.S. Barnala to mark the commemoration of 75 years of Madras Flying Club. Chief Postmaster General, Tamil Nadu Circle, Radhika Doraiswamy, was present.

Mr. Maran said the Centre was committed to starting the state-of-the-art training academy named after former Prime MinisterRajiv Gandhi, who was a trained pilot.

Call to AAI

He urged Southern Regional Executive Director of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) K. Ramalingam to work in tandem with the State government and the Centre for creating airport infrastructure not only in major international airports but also in tier II towns such as Tiruchi, Madurai and Coimbatore, and in lesser known idle airstrips.

"I want the AAI to lay runways over 9,000 ft to facilitate direct wide-bodied jet operations to transport passengers and cargo," Mr. Maran said. "Our endeavour should be to remove the licence raj regime and to think big by displaying foresightedness."

Expressing happiness over the current boom witnessed in the civil aviation sector with the opening up of the skies to more private airlines by policies announced by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel, Mr. Maran said the Department of Information Technology was working on a software programme to facilitate easy completion of the Radio Telephone Examination conducted by the Union Ministry of Telecommunications to help budding pilots.

Growing opportunities

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Barnala said job opportunities in the aviation field were expected to grow further considering the boom in the civil aviation sector. There would be more demand for pilots, flight attendants, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and service technicians. Mr. Barnala said flying was a responsible job with no room for errors. It required resourcefulness and pilots had to be vigilant and alert all the time. "I am confident that when young men and women are given opportunities for training, they will come out in flying colours."

Dr. Ramalingam, who gave an account of the quantum jump in aircraft movement and passenger traffic in the country, said there were 28 State-owned flying clubs/schools and 11 private flying schools.

Over 17 private organisations had applied for space in Tuticorin, Pondicherry, Madurai, Tiruchi, Salem and Vellore for establishing flying schools.

Vellore Collector Dharmendra Pratap Yadav wanted the AAI to upgrade the airstrip in the town to handle Madras Flying Club's activities and declare it a new "cargo hub" by adding more operational facilities including a larger runway.

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