ICAO to study if heights of highrise buildings in GIFT near Ahmedabad airport can exceed limit
NEW DELHI: The International Civil Aviation Organization will conduct a second aeronautical study to determine if multi-storied buildings coming up in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) near Ahmedabad airport can exceed prescribed heights.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which issues no-objection certificates for buildings around airports, had agreed to allow only about a third of the height sought by GIFT authorities for nine buildings planned in the city. Following the AAI’s decision, the applicant approached the appellate committee, which agreed to let the United Nations aviation agency make an assessment.
“We have assigned ICAO to conduct aeronautical study for Gujarat International Finance Tec-City,” AAI chief S Raheja said. “An agreement involving AAI, ICAO and GIFT was recently signed.”
The nine buildings are crucial for GIFT City, located 12 km from Ahmedabad International Airport, which is being developed as India’s first global financial and IT hub and has been fast-tracked after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May 2014. Height restrictions on buildings and structures around airports are meant to facilitate navigation and keep flight paths clear during landings and take-offs.
GIFT sought approval for nine buildings with a height of 476.24 metres AMSL in July 2014, against which the AAI sanctioned a height of 146 metres AMSL. GIFT appealed to the appellate committee in the matter in September 2014.
GIFT, an equal joint venture between the Gujarat Urban Development Company Ltd. and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd., also submitted a copy of the study conducted by Capitol Airspace Group, the US company, which reportedly justified the higher height requirement.
The appellate committee said it was a project of “public importance.” It said that building heights from 173.9 metres above mean sea level (AMSL) to 191 metres AMSL had been granted as a result of an aeronautical study carried out in 2010. The status of the communication, navigation and surveillance requirements at Ahmedabad airport had also changed, it said.
GIFT had applied for relaxation of the height norms in 2008 and subsequently, an aeronautical study was carried out by ICAO in January 2010. On the basis of ICAO’s report, no-objection certificates were issued in May 2010 for 35 buildings ranging in height from 173.9 metres AMSL to 191 metres AMSL.
“This would be the third aeronautical study. There is no bar on an ICAO study, but it is a rarity since AAI has all the expertise to handle this,” an AAI official said.
Some aviation experts questioned the logic and validity of conducting the fresh aeronautical study.
“If AAI’s designated officer is refusing to grant height above 146 metres AMSL, can ICAO increase it by 300 metres?” asked one expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “And if the height is to be increased and aeronautical study conducted, then bring it in the regulation and empower AAI since it is fully competent to handle this.”