Thai firm, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, wins contract to install communications system in Nepal airport

Construction News
Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (left), and Nuttawat Supanundha, executive vice president (engineering) of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, exchange the draft in Kathmandu, on Thursday. Photo courtesy: CAAN

Thai firm, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, wins contract to install communications system in Nepal airport

8 March 2019

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has awarded a $4.83 million contract to install communications, navigation and surveillance and air traffic management systems at Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa to Aeronautical Radio of Thailand.

Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the aviation authority, and Nuttawat Supanundha, executive vice president (engineering) of the Thai company, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations on Thursday.

Aeronautical Radio of Thailand needs to complete the navigation system by December. After the equipment is installed, tested and commissioned, flight calibration of the navigation and communication systems needs to be done. This will take at least two more months, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Gautam said they had targeted to complete the installation of the equipment in seven months by speeding things up. “Aeronautical Radio of Thailand is also keen to complete the project as per our target,” Gautam said, adding that the airport would begin commercial operation by year-end.

The Civil Aviation Authority said that it would take three months to manufacture the equipment and two months to transport them to Nepal. The installation can be completed in two months.

Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, a state enterprise under Thailand’s Ministry of Transport, quoted the lowest price among the three shortlisted bidders that included GECI Espanola of Spain and a joint venture of MSI-Aeronav. The price is 25 percent less than what the civil aviation body had estimated.

The navigation system is the second phase of the airport project.

The government had planned to commence commercial operation of the airport by August; but due to delays in the implementation of the second phase, the launch was pushed back to the end of 2019. The project plans to open the airport’s 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway for domestic flights this month.

According to the project, the airport will be equipped with an Instrument Landing System which allows approach and landing even in poor weather conditions.

There are different standards of Instrument Landing System, namely CAT I, CAT II and CAT III. Aircraft can land at the airport under the CAT I system when visibility is 550 metres.

Under CAT II, planes can land when visibility is 350 metres. The aviation authority has chosen to install CAT II.

The civil works contract worth Rs6.22 billion 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 sub-contractor, Northwest Infra Nepal, stalled works at the construction site for more than six months.

As a result, the project deadline was extended many times after the initial extensions.