Let’s Walk Around Biratnagar Domestic Airport with AviationNepal
Biratnagar – 25 July 2016
Eastern part of the country towards its south in Biratnagar, lies a domestic airport withasphalt runway of length of 1505 meters on an elevation of 236 feet aligned to 090 degrees and 270 degrees serving as one of the country’s busiest domestic Airport. Biratnagar Airport was established on 6 July 1958 as Rani Airport in location called Rani which has been operating under Biratnagar Civil Aviation Authority, Biratnagar, Nepal since then. However the land of Rani has been converted to Degree Campus now.
Biratnagar Airport aims to be established as country’s biggest International Airport one day while it operates as a domestic airport today. With single runway it also has two helipads, one of which is under construction now. This airport measures a total covering of One Hundred and Fifteen Bighas of land. The terminal building and the runway covers the total of one hundred and nine Bighas in Biratnagar and rest six Bighas are covered by Navigation system installation sites in Itahari.
Biratnagar Airport is a significant hub for domestic travelers taking off and landing through its runway. This runway is equipped with modern lightening system which makes it capable of handling night flying too. The runways are equipped with approach lights and runway lights. Taxiways are also equipped with Taxi lights and aprons with apron lighting system. Presently domestic airliners as well as national flag carrier are operating regular scheduled flights in this airport. Buddha Air operates daily 5 scheduled flights by its ATR 42 and ATR 72-500 series aircraft. Yeti Airlines conducts 4 scheduled flights daily by its Jetstream 41 series aircrafts. Nepal Airlines also operates 1 scheduled flight with its Chinese made MA 60 aircraft which now remains grounded on the hangar since long. Besides scheduled flights Saurya Airlines operates two chartered flights daily by its CRJ-200 series and other helicopter service providers provide chartered flights to and fro the airport.
Biratnagar Airport is a controlled aerodrome facility. The traffic is monitored by Air Traffic Controllers (A.T.C.) who operates in two shifts. First shift from the Airport opening time to noon i.e. from 6AM to 12PM and the second shift from 12 till the airport close. The shifts are handled by 6 ATC officers. The fire and rescue department of Biratnagar airport consists of 2 fire machines and 1 ambulance equipped with necessary equipment and totals 16 number of manpower operating in two shifts of 6 firefighters marking the department a ‘Category 5’ one.One of the fire trucks of Biratnagar airport was made by SIMON 19 years ago which has 9000 liters water and 1500 liters of foam holding that can be thrown up to speed of 80 kmph. The other one is only 6 months old manufactured by SCANIA equipped with advanced technology. This machine can hold 6000 liters of water and 250 kilograms of foam which can be thrown at speed of 80-90 kmph. The ambulance in this department is manufactured by DEFENDER with a capacity of 2 people and well equipped with oxygen. A fire rescue tower has also been built for the rescuers to have the best aerial view of the airport vicinity during emergencies. These machines well equips the fire and rescue department of the airport.
The airport’s terminal building consists of a V.I.P. room. The premises of its terminal including runway are secured by Nepal Police Force. The fencing security positions area of the airport are in charge of Nepal Army for security. The main airport facilities also include different airliners departments and engineering departments including Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Radio Engineering departments. Two X-Ray Machines and two metal detectors constitute the security checks of the travelers but the airport lacks the CCTV coverage. However the airport is equipped with VOR/DME navigational instrument that helps pilots to identify their position and distance with respect to the airport while flying. VHF and HF communications facilities make efficient communication between pilots and controllers. The airport also has two bird scaring devices. The airport also has massive storage of aviation fuel of Nepal Oil Corporation which enables aircraft refueling in this airport.
The airport’s parking bay is spacious which can hold 7 aircraft at once. The airport has its own well equipped fire and rescue and engineering departments with 4 sub engineering departments which are the main positive aspects of the airport. This airport has recent addition of satellite radio communication system that is testing phase. All over Nepal only Nepalgunj Airport and Biratnagar airport have been equipped with this system which monitors the radio transmissions in a very wide range in the western part and eastern part of the country respectively. However Biratnagar airport is operating in loss. The reports also claim that there is no space available for the expansion of the airport which makes it seem like the aim of Biratnagar Airport to be established as an International Airport is in the dark side while the construction of other international airports in Nepal are running progressively.
Biratnagar airport has not seen any major incidents or air crash yet but the minor incidents occur occasionally that causes most aircraft to be grounded here. Most of the problems are related to the hydraulic system failures. Some aircraft overshoot the runway with burst tires and some other with minor mechanical and technical failure restricts the aircraft to ground. No other major emergencies have been recorded by the airport authorities since.