Agartala, Sep 27 (IANS): In a bid to boost connectivity in the northeastern region, the airstrips, airfields and Advance Landing Grounds (ALGs) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) can now used by civilians commercial aircraft, an officer said on Tuesday.
"The airstrips, airfields and ALGs of the IAF in northeastern region can be used by the civil and commercial aircraft to facilitate connectivity in the mountainous region," Shillong-based Defence Ministry Spokesperson Group Captain Amit Mahajan told IANS on the phone.
"In the northeastern region, IAF airfields at Bagdogra (West Bengal), Tezpur, Jorhat and Kumbhirgram (all in Assam) are already supporting commercial connectivity. At Kumbhirgram, facilities like runway, airfield lighting and all critical navigation aids such as ILS, VOR and DME, are controlled by Airport Authority of India (AAI)," he added.
"The IAF is always willing to accommodate civil operations, even beyond its routine watch hours," Mahajan said.
He said that many ALGs are either being revived or extended by the IAF in Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,080 km border with China. "ALGs at Zero, Pasighat, Along and Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh are ready for operations by IAF and civilian operators."
According to Mahajan, the stumbling block for civilian air operations has been the lack of passenger handling infrastructure which needs to be created by the concerned State government or AAI, and clearances from Ministry of Civil Aviation, AAI and Director General of Civil Aviation.
Meanwhile, as part of Air Force Day celebrations, Eastern Air Command headquarters at Upper Shillong in Meghalaya has decided to hold a three-day 'AIR FEST 2016' from September 30.
"The festival would showcase the 'Spirit of Adventure' which epitomizes the IAF," he added.
The festival would include an air display with a flypast by Sukhoi SU-30 combat jets and Mi-17 helicopters followed by a breathtaking display of the IAF's 'Air Devils' team which has carried out sky-diving and free-fall para jumps all over the world.
There will also be a demonstration of Garud commandos slithering down ropes from helicopters.
Aero modeling, static display of aircraft and performance by an IAF band will be the other highlights of the festival.