Air India Express Shifts Operations to New Domestic Terminal of Chennai Airport

Radhika Bansal

25 Dec 2023

The Air India Express flights started operating from the second domestic terminal of the Chennai Airport on Saturday, December 23. The decision to operate a second terminal at Chennai airport was taken to ease passenger’s convenience. Earlier, the Air India flights were operated on the T4 Terminal.

The officials said all Vistara flights will also be operated from the T4 terminal from Wednesday, December 27. The officials believe this will decrease the congestion in the T1 terminal. As one of the busiest airports in India, Chennai Airport operates an average of 400 flights daily and sees around 60,000 passengers.

The domestic flight operations were entirely handled from T1 all these years. But as part of the INR 2,467-crore phase II modernisation project, which has been going on at the airport for many months now, domestic flights are being handled from T1 and T4 as of this November. According to officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), IndiGo, Akasa, and SpiceJet will continue operating from T1 for the time being. The rest are gradually migrating services to T4.

When the phase II project ends, the capacity of the airport will expand and the new integrated terminal building will fully handle international flights, while domestic flight operations will operate from T1 and T4.

While the construction of one part of the integrated terminal building has been finished, and international flights are handled from this building, the other portion will be completed only by 2025. “The demolition work of the old international terminal has been in progress, and it will be finished shortly. After this, construction will start. When it is fully completed, the integrated terminal building will sprawl over an area of over 2 lakh square metres and will handle international flight operations in their entirety,” he added.

Chennai Airport's Expansion Plan

Chennai International Airport is all set to undergo expansion of its New Integrated Terminal Building (NITB). The expansion will drastically increase the airport’s capacity, enabling it to cater to 35 million passengers. It has also been announced that by 2025, the Chennai Airport will have a new terminal for international departures as well as a new domestic terminal. 

Spread over 1323 acres of land, the Chennai Airport comprises three terminals. Chennai Airport Terminal 1 is the oldest terminal at Meenambakkam, which is now used for freight. The other terminals at the Tirusulam complex, i.e., Terminals 2 and 3, are used for domestic and international flights.  Terminal 2, known as the Kamaraj domestic terminal, was the first in India to have two aerobridges. Subsequently, Terminal 3, also known as Anna International Terminal, was constructed with three aerobridges.  The recent expansion of the Chennai Airport has resulted in the development of a new international block, i.e., Terminal 4. Currently, Terminal 4 is being used for departures, and Terminal 3 is used for arrivals. 

Chennai Airport International serves as a major hub for domestic and international flights, connecting Chennai with various destinations across India and the world. Several airlines operate from this airport, including both full-service carriers and low-cost airlines. Some of the airlines that have been known to operate from this airport include Air IndiaIndiGoAkasa AirSpiceJet, Jet Airways, AirAsia India, GoAir, Vistara, Etihad Airways, Emirates, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Lufthansa.

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Do Airplanes Attract Lightning? How are Strikes Safely Managed?

Abhishek Nayar

25 Dec 2023

Flying in the vicinity of thunderstorms is an experience that often raises passengers' anxiety levels, particularly during climb-outs or descent through stormy skies. Lightning, with its bright bolts, becomes a focal point of concern. This article explores how commercial transport and general aviation aircraft handle the challenges posed by lightning, shedding light on the technologies and measures in place to ensure passenger safety.

The Lightning Phenomenon

Lightning is a common meteorological event, with an estimated 100 lightning strikes occurring worldwide every second, totaling 25 million strikes annually. Cloud-to-cloud strikes, constituting 80 percent of these occurrences, pose a specific risk to aircraft, especially during climb-out and descent in stormy conditions.

Commercial Transport Aircraft: Lightning Mitigation Strategies

Design Features

Modern airplanes are equipped with advanced design features to dissipate lightning strikes. These include bonding cables, copper mesh in composite panels, electrically isolated avionic racks, and shielded wiring. These techniques divert the current flow from a lightning strike, guiding it around and out of the aircraft.

FAA-Mandated Certification

Commercial aircraft undergo FAA-mandated lightning certification tests to ensure that passengers, crew, fuel, and flight systems remain protected from significant damage during lightning strikes. Aluminum, a strong and lightweight conductor of electricity, forms the outer shell of most aircraft, allowing the electric current to pass through and exit the aircraft.

Internal Protective Systems

A second skin inside the outer shell, made of metal mesh enveloped in silicone, protects the cabin and internal compartments, including electronics. This functions akin to a Faraday Cage, channeling the electrical charge along the outer side of the plane. Additional protective measures, such as shielded wiring, metallic diverter strips, and static discharge wicks, further safeguard avionics, instruments, and flight controls.

New-Generation Aircraft

New-generation aircraft, like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, incorporate a higher percentage of composite materials, resulting in lower electrical conductivity. To address this, manufacturers integrate metal fibers into the composite material, ensuring adequate metal presence for lightning dissipation.

General Aviation Aircraft: Tailoring Solutions for Smaller Planes

Regulation Differences

General aviation aircraft, not designed for public transportation, adhere to separate regulations for lightning mitigation. Manufacturers like Cessna, Piper, Cirrus, and Beechcraft provide basic lightning protection for engines, fuel systems, and airframes.

Flexibility and Risk Avoidance

General aviation pilots, enjoying more flexibility in flight schedules, are taught to divert around thunderstorm cells by at least 20 nautical miles. The emphasis is on avoiding thunderstorms altogether due to the risk of extreme turbulence.

Lightning Protection Systems

Older, smaller aircraft, often constructed with aluminum, are less at risk during lightning strikes. However, modern light aircraft made with fiberglass or a combination of fiberglass and carbon require additional protection. Engineers incorporate metal foils or nonwoven metal meshes under the outer skin to create a conductive path for lightning to travel around passenger compartments and fuel systems.


The evolution of lightning protection systems for both commercial transport and general aviation aircraft is a result of continuous experimentation by NASA and FAA. As technology advances, the aviation industry adapts, developing more efficient systems to mitigate the impact of lightning strikes. While commercial aircraft are equipped with sophisticated measures, general aviation pilots are reminded to exercise caution and avoid thunderstorms, recognizing the potential dangers associated with extreme weather conditions. The commitment to passenger safety remains paramount in the dynamic field of aviation.

With Inputs from Pilot Teacher

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Air China Announces Ambitious Plans to Raise Capital for Fleet Expansion

Abhishek Nayar

25 Dec 2023

In a significant move to bolster its operational capacity and fortify its financial position, Air China has unveiled plans to raise up to 6.0 billion yuan ($842 million) through a private share sale on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The announcement, made on December 22, 2023, outlines the airline's intention to allocate the funds towards expanding its fleet and reinforcing working capital.

Share Sale Details

Air China, the flagship carrier of the nation, intends to offer approximately 854.7 million shares, constituting 30% of its existing capital, in a private placement to its controlling shareholder, China National Aviation Holding Corporation Limited. This strategic move signifies the company's commitment to further growth and development in the highly competitive aviation industry.

Capital Allocation Strategy

The proceeds from the share sale will be earmarked for specific purposes, as detailed in the statement submitted to the Shanghai exchange. Of the total amount raised, 4.2 billion yuan will be directed towards the acquisition of 17 new airplanes, enhancing the airline's fleet capabilities. The remaining 1.8 billion yuan will be utilized to augment working capital, ensuring Air China's operational resilience in the face of dynamic market conditions.

Aircraft Acquisition Plans

While the filing discloses the overall allocation of funds, specific details regarding the aircraft acquisition plan are yet to be unveiled. Air China's decision to invest significantly in expanding its fleet aligns with the company's vision for sustained growth and increased market presence.

Current Fleet Status

As of the end of November 2023, Air China operated a formidable fleet of 900 aircraft, showcasing the airline's extensive reach and prominence in the global aviation landscape. This fleet comprised 386 company-owned aircraft, 215 under financial leases, and 299 under operating leases.

Additional Capital Raise in Hong Kong

In a parallel development, Air China disclosed its intention to raise up to HK$2.0 billion ($256 million) through a private placement of H-shares, further underlining the company's proactive approach to strengthening its financial position.

Strategic Implications

The move to expand the fleet and inject fresh capital into the company reflects Air China's strategic response to the evolving demands of the aviation industry. With the global travel landscape gradually recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this capital infusion positions the airline to capitalize on emerging opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.


Air China's proactive steps to raise capital and expand its fleet underscore its commitment to maintaining a leading position in the aviation sector. As the airline industry continues to rebound, Air China's strategic investments and expansion plans position it favorably for sustainable growth in the coming years.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Flexible Airspace Use Promises Crores in Savings and Environmental Gains

Abhishek Nayar

25 Dec 2023

The Indian civil aviation sector is on the verge of a transformative era, as recent developments in flexible airspace usage promise substantial savings for airlines and significant environmental benefits. In a recent review released by the civil aviation ministry, it was revealed that the flexible use of airspace could potentially lead to annual savings of Rs 1,000 crore, a welcome boon for the industry facing various challenges.

Flexible Airspace Utilization: A Game-Changer for Airlines

The civil aviation ministry highlighted that the optimization of airspace usage is expected to result in substantial benefits for airlines operating in India. By reducing flight times, minimizing fuel consumption, and curbing carbon emissions, the industry stands to save an impressive Rs 1,000 crore annually. This is a significant stride towards enhancing the economic viability of airlines, especially in the wake of the challenges posed by the global pandemic.

Record Number of Commercial Pilot Licenses

In addition to the promising developments in airspace management, the review emphasized the achievement of a record number of commercial pilot licenses issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). With 1,562 licenses issued in the current year until December 18, there is a clear indication of a growing workforce in the aviation sector, contributing to the overall resilience and expansion of the industry.

Addressing Airport Congestion: Infrastructure Restructuring

The review acknowledged the issue of congestion at airports and outlined measures taken to address this concern. By restructuring terminal infrastructure, additional space has been created at various airports, augmenting capacity and improving efficiency at passenger touchpoints. This strategic move aims to enhance the overall passenger experience and streamline airport operations.

Unlocking Airspace: Indian Air Force's Contribution

Historically, a significant portion of airspace, approximately 40%, was unavailable for civilian use, forcing aircraft to take circuitous routes. The review highlighted the collaboration between the civil aviation ministry and the Indian Air Force, resulting in the release of 30% of the national airspace for flexible civilian use. This initiative, aligned with the Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission, has led to the promulgation of 129 conditional routes, unlocking vast potential for optimized flight paths.

Economic and Environmental Impact

The release of airspace for civilian use translates into tangible benefits for both the economy and the environment. The civil aviation ministry estimates that the potential annual savings for airlines could reach Rs 1,000 crore. Since August 2020, total savings have already amounted to Rs 640.7 crore, accompanied by a noteworthy reduction in carbon emissions, totaling 1.37 lakh tons. These figures underscore the dual advantage of this airspace reform – economic efficiency for the airlines and a greener, more sustainable aviation industry.

Surge in Domestic Air Passenger Traffic

Despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, the civil aviation sector has witnessed a remarkable surge in domestic air passenger traffic. On November 19, 2023, airlines in India achieved a milestone by flying 4,56,910 domestic passengers in a single day. This represented a 7.4% surge above pre-Covid averages, showcasing the industry's resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity.


In summary, the flexible use of airspace in India is heralding a new era for the civil aviation sector. The collaborative efforts between the civil aviation ministry and the Indian Air Force, coupled with infrastructure enhancements, are poised to bring about substantial economic savings and environmental benefits. As the industry continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, these positive developments signal a brighter and more sustainable future for Indian aviation.

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Tata Boeing Aerospace Delivers 250th Fuselage for AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter

Radhika Bansal

23 Dec 2023

Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL), which is a joint venture between Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) and Boeing Aerospace, has delivered the 250th fuselage for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter from its facility in Hyderabad. These fuselages go into AH-64 helicopters manufactured for customers worldwide, including the US Army, and most recently, the six on order with the Indian Army, TBAL said.

The 14,000-square metres Hyderabad facility is a global sole source supplier for Apache fuselages, with over 90% of the parts used in the Apache aerostructure assemblies manufactured in India through more than 100 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) suppliers, it added. 

The company said in a statement, “This milestone reflects TBAL's continuous dedication to bolstering India's defence capabilities and advancing the nation's indigenous manufacturing prowess.”

The joint venture employs over 900 engineers and technicians at its Hyderabad facility and uses cutting-edge robotics, automation and advanced aerospace concepts in its manufacturing processes. TBAL said this key milestone reflects its dedication to bolstering India's defence capabilities and advancing its indigenous manufacturing prowess.

The AH-64 Apache is one of the most lethal aircraft which is almost completely manufactured in India. According to the Tata Aerospace release, over 90% of the parts used in the Apache aerostructure assemblies are manufactured in India through more than 100 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) suppliers. Globally, more than 1,280 Apache helicopters are in operation and they have accumulated a total of more than five million flight hours, of which 1.3 million hours have been during combat. 

With the contemporary AH-64E Apache variant in production till at least 2028, Boeing foresees that the aircraft will remain in service as a primary attack helicopter for various nations, into the 2060s.

Boeing delivered the first US Army Apache AH-64A variant in 1984 and thereafter went on to deliver more than 2700 of these choppers for various global customers including Egypt, Greece, India, and Indonesia.

Power of AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters

AH-64 Apache attack helicopter is capable of delivering a variety of weapons which include air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air-to-air Stinger missiles. The helicopter carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1200 rounds as part of the area weapon sub-system.

Apart from having a fully armed arsenal aboard, the Apache helicopter also comes fully equipped with fire control radar, which has a 360° coverage and nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems, said the Defence Ministry earlier.

Currently, the Indian Air Force has a fleet of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, which is considered to be the world's deadliest helicopter ever manufactured. Boeing signed a deal with the Indian government in 2020 to supply six more helicopters to the IAF.

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German Pilots' Strike Disrupts Lufthansa' Discover Airlines' Christmas Travel Plans

Abhishek Nayar

23 Dec 2023

In an unexpected turn of events, the German pilots' union VC has called for a five-hour strike at Discover Airlines, a leisure subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. The strike is scheduled to take place on Saturday, December 22, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (0700-1200 GMT), just ahead of the Christmas holidays, potentially impacting holiday travel plans for many passengers.

Strike Details

The strike is set to affect all flights operated by Discover Airlines using the Airbus 320 and 330 fleet departing from Germany during the specified time frame. The union, VC, did not provide a precise number of participating pilots, leaving passengers uncertain about the extent of the disruption to their travel itineraries.

Discover Airlines' Response

Discover Airlines responded to the strike announcement, expressing regret over the decision. According to a spokesperson for the airline, talks with VC were reportedly in the final stages, making the strike unexpected. The airline assured passengers that it would minimize the impact by rebooking affected individuals on alternative Lufthansa Group flights or flights scheduled outside the strike period.

Flight Impact

During the strike period, Discover Airlines had 16 flights planned. While the exact number of affected passengers remains undisclosed, the airline's efforts to rebook travelers on alternative flights suggest a commitment to mitigating the inconvenience caused by the industrial action.

Negotiations and Union's Stance

The VC spokesperson stated that the decision to strike was a result of the employer's failure to reach a satisfactory collective agreement. Despite being on the verge of finalizing negotiations, the union emphasized the seriousness of its desire for a fair deal and expressed readiness to resume discussions at any time.

Discover Airlines Profile

Established in 2021, Discover Airlines operates as the Lufthansa Group's leisure airline, primarily focusing on transporting travelers from Frankfurt and Munich to various holiday destinations. The disruption caused by the strike raises questions about the potential ripple effects on the airline's reputation and customer satisfaction.


As travelers brace for the impact of the upcoming strike, the aviation industry faces challenges in maintaining seamless holiday operations. Discover Airlines' efforts to rebook affected passengers demonstrate a commitment to customer service, but the overall consequences of the strike on the airline's operations and passenger experience remain uncertain. With negotiations at a standstill, the focus now shifts to resolving the underlying issues and preventing future disruptions in the dynamic landscape of air travel.

With Inputs from Reuters