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|Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:57 am Post subject: Safdarjung Airport to chronicle aviation history
VVIP airport to chronicle aviation history
Dec 14, 2016
The high-security Safdarjung Airport may be made partially open to public, with the Centre deciding to build an integrated headquarters for several aviation agencies next to its iconic central dome.
The airport is currently used only for VVIP choppers and small government aircraft.
"A five-storey building will be constructed as the combined headquarters for Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau. Some space has also been allocated to the Airports Authority of India," said AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra.
On the ground floor of the headquarters, an exhibition hall will be built. It will display art works from Air India's (AI)collection and rare photographs by AAI chronicling the evolution of airports in India. This section is likely to be thrown open to public in the next three years.
"People can take a look at paintings and photographs from the AI and AAI collection respectively," Mohapatra said.
The building will be built at a cost of Rs 300 crore and on an area of 6.5 acres, said Mohapatra, a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer chosen by Prime Minister Modi to head AAI.
Safdarjung Airport was established as the Willingdon Airfield in 1929 and was India's second airport after Mumbai's Juhu Aerodrome. It used to be in the periphery of the city but after decades of urbanisation, is now in the centre of the capital. It was Delhi's only airport till 1962, when operations shifted to Palam Airport, which had a bigger runway to handle larger planes. People could go right up to the tarmac to receive and see off passengers at Safdarjung Airport.
It also housed the Delhi Flying Club till January 2002, which was shut down following fears of a terrorist attack being launched from the airport to nearby sensitive establishments in central and Lutyens' Delhi. During the last years of UPA-II, a tunnel was made from the airport to the Prime Minister's residence on Lok Kalyan Marg as an evacuation route in case of an emergency.