Hindon Air Force base to be used for RCS-Udan scheme

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The government on Wednesday said that it plans to use Hindon Air Force base in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad district to connect regional destinations to the national capital. The proposal to develop a "Civil Enclave" at the Hindon Air Force base was disclosed by Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey on the sidelines of Assocham's Civil Aviation conference held here. A "Civil Enclave" is an area allotted at an airport, belonging to armed forces for providing civilian air transport services. Currently, there are over 20 such enclaves in India. According to Choubey, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to provide the Air Force base for flight operations under the second round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme -- Udan -- (RCS-Udan). However, the IGI airport operator DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited) has to be taken "on-board" for the new arrangement to be implemented, Choubey said. The OMDA (Operation Management and Development Agreement) pact that GMR Group's DIAL has entered-in with state-run Airports Autority of India (AAI), prohibits civilian airport operations within 150 kms of the IGI airport. "First of all we have to take GMR on-board and we are reasonably confident that we will be in a position to sort out the contract related issues with GMR as far as Hindon is concerned because we see slot constraints for the smaller aircraft which are flying under the RCS," Choubey said. The Civil Aviation Secretary disclosed that talks with Indian Air Force were initiated on a "pre-emtive" basis, as the Ministry of Civil Aviation expected a healthy demand for routes connecting the national capital with regional areas under the second round of RCS-Udan scheme. "We are took this pre-emptive step, as we expect a significant demand for slots in Delhi and we recognised that it may be difficult for DIAL to provide all those slots for RCS at the Delhi airport," Choubey informed.  A "slot" is a permit given to flight operators to use the full range of airport infrastructure necessary to arrive or depart on a specific date and time. IAF sources told IANS that a "feasibility report" was given to the MoD recommending civilian flight operations at Hindon base, after which a formal nod was given to the proposal.  The Hindon Air Force Station is located around 30 km away from downtown New Delhi and is spread over an area of over 55 square kilometers, making it one of the largest air bases in Asia. It is operated under the Western Air Command