Bhairahawa airport enters second phase of constructionTechnicians to start work to install communications, navigation and surveillance equipment from next week.
They will also begin fitting the air traffic management system including meteorological equipment as part of the second phase of the airport construction project.
According to project officials, workers will enter the project site next week to prepare the infrastructure required to install the navigation and surveillance equipment. “It will take at least two months to complete the structures,” said an anonymous project official.
“As per the plan, the installation of the equipment will begin in January and it will be completed by March-end,” he said.
The project official said that a flight check and commissioning of the equipment, which will last at least a week, had been planned for the first week of April.
“We are trying our best to bring the airport into operation by March-end as per the target set by the government.” According to the official, most of the equipment was manufactured in the US and Europe. The factory acceptance test of the equipment was completed in September.
The VHF Omni-Directional Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME), a radio navigation system and Instrument Landing System (ILS), which allows approaches and landings even in poor weather conditions, was ordered from Kansas, US.
“It will take 45 days for the equipment to arrive in Kathmandu,” the official said, adding that the shipment left the US for Nepal three weeks ago.
On March 7, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal awarded a $4.83 million contract to install communications, navigation and surveillance and air traffic management systems at Gautam Buddha International Airport to Aeronautical Radio of Thailand.
This project covers installation, testing and commissioning, flight calibration of navigation and communication systems, together with flight procedure design.
Located in south-central Nepal, the airport will be the gateway to the international pilgrimage destination of Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. The airport will have a 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway.
Prabesh Adhikari, chief of the airport project, said they had started work on the runway lightning system and were putting the finishing touches to the terminal.
These tasks are a component of the first phase civil works contract worth Rs6.22 billion that was awarded to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013.
The airport was initially slated to be ready by December 2017. However, fuel and building material shortages due to the months-long Tarai banda in 2015 delayed the upgradation works by six months, and its operation deadline was revised to June 2018.
Subsequently, a dispute over payment between the Chinese contractor and the Nepali subcontractor, Northwest Infra Nepal, stalled work at the construction site for more than six months.
As a result, the project deadline was extended many times after the initial extensions. The government has been negotiating with Germany’s Munich Airport to provide operational management services at the airport in Bhairahawa, which will be Nepal’s second international airport.