The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has solicited proposals from interested firms to deliver a new air traffic management (ATM) system at Mumbai Airport.

A 15-year-old ATM system that struggles to cope with increasing air traffic is currently being used by the Mumbai Air Traffic Controller (ATC).

The maintenance agreement for the current system has expired and its components are unavailable on the market.

Expected to become operational over the next 15 months, the new system will enable Mumbai Airport to achieve its full capacity of 1,040 daily flights.

The lack of a new ATM system was severely felt in April when one of the four machines at Mumbai ATC broke down. The malfunction was due to a 60% increase in flight movements after Pakistan shut down its airspace in February.

Mumbai ATC handled two or three times more air traffic than its normal capacity during this time.

A senior Mumbai ATC official told Hindustan Times: “We have asked for additional features in the system that will allow automatic time-based spacing between two aircraft.

“This will help accommodate more aircraft in the airspace at a time. Apart from this, the automated system will help controllers manage air traffic, make quicker decisions about an aircraft, if needed, thereby reducing stress, and help better planning for aircraft landing and take-offs.

“As it will take around 15 months for the system to be in place, AAI is in the process of renewing the maintenance contract of the current system.”

The AAI will acquire the new ATM system in two phases. During the first phase, it will be deployed at the existing facility of the Mumbai Air Traffic Service (ATS) complex.

In the second phase, the ATM system will be deployed in a new modern ATS complex near Terminal 2. The complex is still undergoing planning.

The new system will also control the required air traffic management once Navi Mumbai airport becomes operational.

The AAI is also considering changing the ATMs at Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports.