||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (August 2014)|
Kumbhirgram Air Force Base
কুম্ভীরগ্রাম বায়ুসেনা বেস
|Airport type||Public, military|
|Owner||Indian Air Force|
|Operator||Indian Air Force, Airports Authority of India|
|Serves||Silchar, Hailakandi, Karimganj|
|Location||Kumbhirgram, Silchar, Assam, India|
|Elevation AMSL||352 ft / 107 m|
Silchar Airport (IATA: IXS, ICAO: VEKU) is located in Silchar in the state of Assam, India built by the British in 1944 and is also a Civil enclave airport as it is under the control of Indian Air Force. The airport is situated on the foothills of the Barail range. It is the fourth busiest airport of the north-eastern India next to Guwahati, Agartala and Imphal. Silchar Airport handles about 230,000 passengers yearly. Approximately 30 flights per week depart from the Silchar Airport for cities like Imphal, Guwahati, Kolkata, Jorhat and Agartala. It is equipped with Instrument Landing System CAT I and Night landing facility. Plans are on to set up a new integrated terminal which would facilitate modern passenger comfort and accommodate more passengers. The Indian Air Force has not thought till now of starting the night landing facility at Silchar Airport. The airport area is surrounded by tea gardens, so one can enjoy a nice and a clear view of those tea gardens during take off and landing.
After a long wait for many years the runway and apron extension work finally stabilized on August 2007 and then the last Boeing 737-200 flight took off for Kolkata on 2 September 2007 which was operated by Alliance Air (present name Air India Regional) and from the next day itself Air India started operating Airbus A320 on Kolkata route as the old Boeing 737-200 aircraft were not in safety zone in terms of flying purpose.
It was constructed by the British during the Second World War in 1944. The full scale operation was started in March 1944 Led by Sqn Ldr Hem Chaudhuri, It participated in the siege of Kohima and Imphal during World War II.During this period Sqn Ldr Arjun Singh was decorated with DFC (Distinguish Flying Cross) for offensive against Japanese forces. In March 1966, No. 403 Air Force Station was formed at Kumbhirgram. After three years of formation of Air Force Station Kumbhirgram, 110 HU moved into the station from Tezpur on 08 Sep 1969. After its formation, a detachment of MI-4 helicopter was maintained at Kumbhirgram airfield to support the security forces against mizo insurgents. During the 1971 Indo Pak war, Hunter aircraft of 49 Sqn flew 49 closed Air Support missions sorties and Gnat aircraft of 24 Sqn close Air Support missions sorties from Kumbhirgram. Four special heliborne operations were carried out to Sylhet, Raipura, Narsinghai and Vaidali Bazar. In the year 1973-75 and 76, 110 HU undertook flood relief operations at Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram with the MI-4 helicopters. The unit also operated for flood relief operations in Orissa in 1979. The MI-4 helicopter was flown for 18 years by 110 HU in various operations within the country and as well in neighbouring countries for different missions. In 1981 this unit was equipped with MI-8 helicopters. The basic role assigned to the unit was air maintenance for Army paramilitary force in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur. In 1981 equipment and stores of National Hydel Project Corporation were airlifted to Bhairabi in Mizoram. In the month of Dec 1981, during emergency in Mizoram the unit participated in Op `JIM-JAM'. In 1988, 110 HU had sent its aircraft to Sri Lanka in Op`PAWAN', where it flew extensively for various missions in support of IPKF. In the very next year, in 1989-90, its undertook flood relief operations in Bangladesh, Tripura and Assam. No. 403 Air Force Station was upgraded to 22 Wing, AF and the station celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1991. In the same year the unit was involved once again in relief operation when Cyclone had hit Bangladesh. In 1992, the 110 HU actively involved itself in operation `HAMMER' with the Army and Paramilitary forces. Four helicopters took part in the operation from a disused airfield in Palel. In the early nineties, three unit helicopters were involved in Op `SURAJ,Op MALAR' and `Op RAJAT' from Chakabama. In 1995 it got involved in Op `GOLDEN BIRD' with 04 helicopters. Also, in the same year, it undertook land slides and flood relief operation at Mizoram. From 23 to 26 Jul 1996, the unit carried out flood relief operations in West Bengal where it flew 124 sorties on 104 hrs and dropped 107 tones of load. In 1996 the unit took part in Ops `VAJRA'.
Previously silchar was also served by Vayudoot between late 80's and 90's and then by Air Deccan which started flights between kolkata and silchar back in November 2005 then later on it became Kingfisher Red in 2008 but the airline stopped operating from silchar on February 2012.
In December 1985, Indian Airlines (now Air India) operated the first all-woman crew flight in the world from Kolkata to Silchar using a Fokker F-27 Friendship aircraft which was commanded by Captain Saudamini Deshmukh along with first officer Nivedita Bhasin.
Airlines and destinations
|Air India Regional||Guwahati, Kolkata, Tezpur|
|Jet Airways||Guwahati, Kolkata|
Technical Information and Facilities
Silchar airport is situated at an elevation of 338 feet above the sea level. It covers the land area of 36.70 Acres. There is only one domestic terminal and is equipped with modern facilities for the passengers. The terminal has four check-in counters along with one boarding gate allows a facility to handle nearly 300 passengers at a given time with 150 each at the arrival and the departure section. Rest rooms are also available for transit passengers with charges applied as per AAI rules. There are two conveyor belts available in the arrival building to support multiple aircraft at a single time. Indian Oil handles the Aviation fuel service department of Silchar Airport. Silchar airport has a variety of options for eating and shopping at the airport premises. Moreover, shops selling local handicraft items are also there at the airport. The airport comes under the administrative control of the Airports Authority of India. The guidelines prescribed by the Airports Authority of India are adhered to while carrying out the daily operations of Silchar Airport. Lighting System: PAPI - Precision approach path indicator visual aid for both side of the runway (06/24) that enables pilots to maintain the correct approach (in the vertical plane) towards the airport and ILS - Instrument landing system provides a direction for approaching when the aircraft tune its receiver to the ILS frequency, it provides both lateral and a vertical signals. Glide slope station which is an antenna array sited to one side of the runway touchdown zone is also available towards runway 06.
Connectivity with the main city
By road: Silchar Airport is about 24 kilometers away from the main city and it takes only a 45–50 minutes drive. Cabs and private cars are easily available at the city for the airport and the approximate charge is about 200 rupees per person. Daily bus service is also operated by Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) between the main city and airport and the timings are as follows: first bus at 5:10am and the second bus at 10:00am both from the city to the airport and for return the first bus is at 7:15am and the second bus is at 12:40pm both from the airport to the city, charges applicable is Rs.100 for AC bus and Rs.50 for Delux bus all in per person rate.
By rail: Silchar Railway Station is located at a distance of 26 kilometres from Silchar airport by road. It is only about 50–55 minutes drive from the Airport till the railway station through Kumbhirgram Airport Road. Taxis and cabs are readily available outside the station for the airport and vice versa.
Accidents and Incidents
- 18 March 1944 - A Douglas C-47A-70-DL (DC-3) bearing registration number:42-100703 of United States Army Air Force(USAAF) crashed near silchar airport. The aircraft was severely damaged and was written off.
- 5 May 1957 - The DC-3 Cargo flight of Indian Airlines (VT- AUV) departed silchar for a flight to Calcutta. Soon after takeoff the aircraft crashed into the ground. Fire broke out in both engine nacelles, but was extinguished quickly by the heavy rain. The accident is attributed to the insufficient altitude at which the aircraft was flown during an attempt to fly through a thunderstorm. Down-draughts and divergent winds encountered, forced the aircraft to the ground. All three crew members were killed.
- 29 March 1959 – A Douglas C-47A-90-DL flight of Indian Airlines (VT-CGI) was operating on a flight from Calcutta to Imphal via Agartala and Silchar. The aircraft took off from Agartala for a 50-minute flight to Silchar. En route weather was poor with severe thunderstorms in the area southwest of Silchar. The aircraft didn't arrive at its destination and was found to have crashed 56 km west of silchar. All 24 onboard including 20 passengers and 4 crew members were killed.
- 29 August 1970 – A Fokker F-27 Friendship 400 flight of Indian Airlines (VT-DWT) struck a hill shortly after take-off from Silchar for a flight to Guwahati. The pilot didn't climb overhead Silchar to the minimum sector altitude, but continued directly to Guwahati. All 39 on board including 34 passengers and 5 crew members were killed.
- 19 October 1988 - A Fokker F27 of Vayudoot (VT-DMC) was on a scheduled flight from Silchar to Guwahati when it disappeared on approach to the airport. The aircraft undershot the runway in inclement weather. All 31 passengers and 3 crew perished in the crash.
- 2006 - A Boeing 737-200 aircraft of Alliance Air (now Air India Regional) which was operating as CD7253 from kolkata to silchar faces a technical problem with its Flaps while attempting to land at silchar airport, after hovering over silchar for about 20 minutes the pilots then decided to take the aircraft back to kolkata as the runway in kolkata is large enough to make an emergency landing without the flaps. The aircraft after getting repaired at kolkata airport flew back to silchar on the same evening itself. There were no fatalities caused by this incident.
- September 2007 - An Airbus A320 aircraft of Air India which was operating as IC 253 from kolkata to silchar aborted landing at silchar airport as the pilots reported to see some small holes in the runway seconds before touching down, the ATC at silchar airport then confirmed the pilots that there are some small holes in the active runway and then diverted the aircraft to guwahati where it stayed for about 3hours and meanwhile the runway is being repaired and then at around 5pm in the evening the aircraft made a safe landing at silchar airport. There were no fatalities caused by this incident.
- 10 June 2012 - As the Air India Regional flight AI9760 an ATR 42-320 aircraft (VT-ABD) took off from Silchar airport for Guwahati one of the ground staff saw something dropped from the sky, it was one of the nose wheels of the aircraft, then the Air Traffic Control of Silchar airport immediately informed the flight captain Mrs. Urmila Yadav and her co-pilot Mr. Yashu about the incident. Due to pilot experience and good piloting the aircraft touched down safely at Guwahati airport after circling over the airport for nearly an hour to burn up fuel and to reduce the risk of a fire after touching down. All crew members including the passengers remained unharmed.
- 8 July 2013 - Air India flight AI0754 an A319 aircraft bound for kolkata returns to silchar airport 15 minutes after takeoff due to Technical Fault as its Rear-Gear cover did not close after takeoff, all crew members and the passengers remained unharmed.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Silchar Airport.|
- Silchar Airport at the AAI
- Airport information for VEKU at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
-  Accidents and crashes that took place in and around silchar airport.
-  rare pics of world war II and also the formation of kumbhirgram air force base.
-  History of Kumbhirgram Air Force Station.