|Location||Bangalore, Karnataka, India|
|Elevation AMSL||2,912 ft / 888 m|
HAL Airport (IATA: none, ICAO: VOBG), also known as Hindustan Airport, is an airport located in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Due to its location in the heart of the city, it used to serve as a hub for general, business and VIP aviation, as well as being used by the Indian Air Force as a cargo and logistics base, and as a testing facility by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. It served as the city's main domestic and international airport until 24 May 2008, when it was replaced by the new, much larger Kempegowda International Airport in Devanahalli. There have since been repeated attempts to restart commercial service at the airport, but as of 2015[update] was being used only for non-scheduled, military cargo/logistics, VIP aircraft movements, and as a diversion alternative to Kempegowda International Airport in case of emergencies.
During World War II, Indian magnate Walchand Hirachand sought to build and repair planes in India, which at the time did not have any aircraft industry of its own. He found a partner in American businessman William Pawley, and the two received authorization from the British War Cabinet to set up a factory. Meanwhile, the princely state of Mysore offered 200 acres in Bangalore for the construction of an airfield. Hirachand, his colleagues, and the Mysore government jointly formed a company called Hindustan Aircraft Limited (the original name of present-day Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, or HAL) and in December 1940 laid the cornerstone of the facility, which began operations just one month later. The colonial government joined the venture in 1941. As fears of Japanese ambitions rose following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the British Raj decided to requisition the airfield in April 1942. It then allowed the US Tenth Air Force to repair its aircraft in Bangalore, and the following year the Americans began running the factory. With the US Air Force in charge, the facility focused on fixing and overhauling aircraft and engines, as well as producing drop tanks. Workers tended to a wide range of planes, including Catalinas and C-47 Dakotas. Upon the war's conclusion, the Indian government reassumed control of the airport.
On the civilian front, Bangalore had commercial air service as early as 1948. At that time, Air India was stopping in the city six times per week on its Madras-Trivandrum flight. Four years later, Airways (India) and Deccan Airways were also flying to the airport, linking it to a handful of destinations in South India. The national government then combined all domestic carriers into a single company called Indian Airlines, which was offering nonstop service from Bangalore to six cities by 1970. Regional airline Vayudoot had joined Indian Airlines by the late 1980s, operating flights within Karnataka as well as to neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, Indian Airlines' network from Bangalore had expanded to 13 destinations, from Delhi in the north to Trivandrum in the south.
During the 1990s, the number of passengers the airport was handling began to rise at a quick rate. While 1,000 travellers were passing through the terminal daily in 1991, more than six times that number were doing so by 1997. Additionally, Air India delivered Bangalore its first international destination, Singapore, in January 1995. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) started enhancing the airport's facilities toward the end of the decade, constructing an instrument landing system for the runway and another terminal. The arrivals section of the two-storey building could serve 700 domestic and 300 international passengers at a time, while the departures area had a capacity for 300 international travellers. At the inauguration ceremony in January 1999, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee associated Bangalore's rising global stature and bustling economy with the need for the new terminal. At the same time, he observed that the city's accelerated pace of growth meant that the expansion would only help in the short-term, so government leaders needed to press forward with plans to build a new airport.
The year 2000 saw the Bangalore airport land its first foreign carrier, Royal Nepal Airlines, which initiated a route to Kathmandu. One year later, a Lufthansa Airbus A340 touched down from Frankfurt, Germany, signalling the first time the South Indian metropolis had a direct link to Europe.
Civilian traffic continued to increase as the decade progressed. Air Deccan established its first base at the HAL airport upon starting operations in 2003. Two years later, Bangalore ranked third on the list of the busiest airports in India with respect to domestic operations, and more international travellers were arriving as well. Carriers like British Airways and Air France, which began service to the city in the same week, contributed to this growth. Meanwhile, the signing of a concession agreement by the state and national governments and a private company called Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) enabled construction to start on another much larger airport, situated 30 km from the downtown area of the city in the suburb of Devanahalli. The contract barred commercial flights from operating at the HAL airport for 25 years after the new airport opened, as BIAL and the Karnataka government believed that keeping both airports open would hamper the new facility's profitability.
When comparing January 2006 to the same month one year prior, domestic and international passenger counts had gone up roughly 48% and 29%, respectively. Airport officials eventually had to request airlines not to introduce flights during the busiest hours. In 2006, HAL complained that the airport's booming civilian operations were hindering the company's activities, which ranged from flying sorties to evaluating aircraft prototypes. At that time, passenger numbers exceeded by more than two-fold the terminals' capacity of 3.5 million travellers per year.
The AAI responded to the problem with various infrastructure upgrades. For instance, it collaborated with HAL to construct additional parking stands. By late 2006, the airports authority had finished enlarging the two terminals, thereby raising the annual passenger capacity by 800,000. The statistics continued to climb in the meantime, with over 10.5 million people passing through the HAL airport in the 2007-2008 fiscal year.
Transfer of civilian operations
The new airport, named Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB), opened on 24 May 2008. Per the Government's decision that no two commercial airports could exist within a 150 km (93 mi) radius, all passenger and revenue cargo flights were transferred from HAL Airport to KIAB.
Since then, there have been several attempts to reinstate commercial air service at HAL Airport. Shortly before BIAL's opening, 20,000 employees of the Airports Authority of India went on strike against the closure of HAL Airport and Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad. In January 2015, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar appealed to the Civil Aviation Minister to reopen HAL Airport, citing its loss of revenue and its convenient location within Bangalore. However, the Indian Government has repeatedly denied these requests in accordance with its 150 km policy.
The airport however remains operational round the clock (H24 ATC watch hours) due to non-scheduled, military cargo/logistics, and VIP aircraft movements and as a diversion alternative to Kempegowda International Airport in case of emergencies.
HAL Airport has one main runway,
This is the principal runway at the airport. It can cater to any type of aircraft including Code-F aircraft like the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. There are 4 entry/exit taxiways, 2 on the east side named E2 (perimeter) and E1. Similarly there are 2 taxiways on the west side - W2 (perimeter) and W1. In addition, there are six aprons.
The passenger terminal is located on the north side of the airport. It contains two jetways and separate sections for domestic and international flights. Despite the rise in passenger traffic, there was no room to expand the terminal, and the apron in front of it could only park six aircraft. This terminal has now been converted into an executive terminal with lounges and facilities for business and VIP aviation.
Incidents and accidents
- 14 February 1990, Indian Airlines Flight 605, an Airbus A320, crashed on final approach with 92 fatalities.
- 28 December 1996, a Blue Dart Aviation Boeing 737 made a heavy, off-center landing causing damage to the aircraft and runway.
- 12 February 2004, a helicopter being used by the HAL Rotary Wing Academy crashed, injuring both occupants.
- 26 October 2005, an Indian Air Force MiG-21 crashed killing the pilot.
- 11 March 2006, a Deccan ATR 72, with 40 passengers and 4 crew made a heavy landing. There were no major injuries but the aircraft was written off.
- 4 May 2006, a Transmile Air Services 727-2F2F suffered damage to the left wing fuel tank.
- 21 August 2006, a Kiran Mark II trainer aircraft crashed after the wheels failed.
- 6 June 2007, Sri Lankan Cargo Antonov An-12 lost engine power on runway.
- 6 March 2009, A NAL Saras aircraft prototype that had taken off from HAL Airport crashed in a field near Bidadi, killing the three man crew of test pilots.
- 1 February 2019, An Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 modified by HAL on an acceptance flight crashed 500 meters outside the airport perimeter wall after an unsuccessful touch and go on runway 09, both pilots ejected but landed on burning wreckage and died
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