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Anti_Illuminati

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India Cleared for Take Off
June 2008


As India's economy continues to soar, so do the growing ranks of its young professionals. The subcontinent now has the second fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world (China is first). Between now and 2009, this sector is projected to grow 20 percent, adding further stress to an already overburdened transportation infrastructure.

Due to this anticipated growth, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has identified India as a key priority in upgrading international air travel. "Helping India to modernize its airspace will have far-reaching effects—domestically and internationally," says Agam Sinha, senior vice president and general manager of MITRE's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD).

Two busiest airports

To help kick off a new collaborative relationship between the FAA and Indian aviation organizations, the U.S.-India Aviation Partnership Summit was convened last April in New Delhi. During the summit, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) signed an agreement with CAASD to begin to redesign the country's burgeoning airspace. The agreement is the first sole source contract India has awarded to a private company in aviation.


Managers from the Airports Authority of India recently visited the McLean campus for a training session.

The agreement calls for MITRE to analyze airport and airspace capacity at India's two busiest airports—Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi and Mumbai Airport. "The needs in India are huge," says Mimi Dobbs, who helped negotiate the contract along with C.C. Hsin, director of MITRE's International/Asia-Pacific aviation work area. "But the country doesn't have to transform old technology because there isn't much existing infrastructure—not compared to the U.S.—so they can basically start to leapfrog into the future. We want to help them to do this."

True visionaries

During a trip to Washington, D.C., last June to meet with FAA officials, Praful Patel, India's Minister of Civil Aviation, paid a visit to MITRE in McLean, Va., and toured CAASD's lab facilities. Dobbs describes both Patel and K. Ramalingam, chairman of the AAI, as "true visionaries."

"Gaining a cultural understanding before getting started also helped us move forward," says Dobbs. "There are many factors to consider, but the potential to make a positive impact is enormous."

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Team-Based Approach

"A team-based approach has been key to our success," explains Mimi Dobbs, who says more than 20 team members from MITRE are currently involved in the project.

John Lebron, a principal multi-discipline systems engineer, is leading a team to conduct an analysis of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi and Mumbai Airport, which together account for more than 50 percent of domestic air traffic. Initial findings were shared with Indian aviation officials during a visit to Delhi in January.

Ken Wallace, a lead multi-discipline systems engineer, is directing another team that is preparing India's next generation of air traffic control trainers. During three intensive three-week-long training sessions over the last year in McLean, managers from Airports Authority of India (AAI) from Mumbai and New Delhi studied airport capacity, airspace efficiency, and environmental impact.

These managers will take this knowledge back to India to train supervisors and controllers at the 127 airports managed by AAI. Employees at more than 450 civilian and military airports throughout India are ultimately expected to benefit from these sessions.
—by Karina H. Wright