Flying schools to help better utilise well-equipped North Karnataka airports

The recent announcement by the Airports Authority of India on setting up flying schools in six underutilised airports across India, including two in Kalaburagi and Belagavi in the State, to meet the growing demand for pilots in the country has triggered new hopes of better use of the two well-equipped airports. The new proposal is also expected to contribute to the development of the North Karnataka region.

Built on 742 acres near Srinivas Saradagi village, about 12 km from Kalaburagi, the Kalaburagi airport is one of the biggest in India, having the 10th longest runway (3,175×45 metres) and the second longest in the State after Bengaluru. The total length of the airfield is 7.5 km and its terminal building is spread on 2,173 sq.m.

Sambra airport in Belagavi too is well-equipped to house a flying school, say officials. It is spread over 730 acres and at 2.5 km, its runway is one of the biggest in the country. This enables not only civilian flights, but also large cargo aircraft to take off and land. The airport is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. Work on installing a localiser and setting up a glide-path is in progress.

Minor tweaks

Kalaburagi airport director S. Gnaneswara Rao said the airport can operate bigger flights and house a flying school as well. “Some minor arrangements, such as the construction of hangers for parking and maintaining the aircraft, are to be made. These things are normally taken care of by the flying schools themselves,” he said.

Though administrative approval was given in March 2007 for Kalaburagi and the foundation stone was laid only next year, it took 10 years for this to be completed in 2018 after crossing many deadlines. Formally inaugurated on November 22 last year, the airport has remained underutilised with only two flights operating between Kalaburagi and Bengaluru.

Officials at Sambra hope to address some pending issues in quick time. For instance, the instrument-landing facility has been installed but not commissioned yet. That is because there are two thoroughfare roads on the airport premises that are used by residents of Honnihal and Mavinakatti.

Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath said the district administration would provide an alternative road to the kutcha roads. “The government has acquired around six acres of land to build new roads for the residents. That work will be sped up,” he said.

“Setting up a flying school has been a long-pending demand. Once the flying school is opened here, it will boost economic activity and thus contribute to the development of our region. It will also positively influence and encourage our local students to become pilots,” Umesh Jadhav, Lok Sabha member from Kalaburagi, said.

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