Better amenities at Aero India this time

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Guess where two Indira Canteens, albeit temporary, will come up next month. At Air Force Station Yelahanka.

Aero India 2019 is less than a month away and its venue for the 12th time, the Indian Air Force base, some 30 km north of the city, is abuzz with preparations for the biennial event.

For five days starting February 20, over a lakh visitors are expected daily at what the organisers say is Asia’s biggest civil and military aeronautical spectacle.

The show will be smoother and more people-friendly than before, according to Air Commodore Ravuri Sheetal, Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station Yelahanka.

Three times more toilets, more pocket-friendly eateries, much bigger parking spaces with assistance; bigger viewing shelters, but pricier tickets at ₹2,750 for the exhibition area and ₹600 for just the public aerial display viewing area, Air Commodore Sheetal said at a pre-event news conference on Wednesday.

Aircraft, aerobatics and stall exhibitors were still sending in their bookings and the final names and numbers would be clear in the coming weeks. As for security, “it would be adequate” from the Air Force, CISF, State police, and other personnel, he said.

Exhibition

For the exhibition crawlers, there will be two more hangars F and G in addition to A, B, C, D, E, and AB.

Preparations, which began six months ago, gathered pace after the Ministry of Defence announced the date and the venue a couple of months back. The IAF has pressed around 2,500 officers on air show duty, some 500 of them from other stations.

As on Wednesday, some 900 contract workers were said to be working day and night to put up access-controlling barricades, hangars, and other facilities. An estimated 60% of works has been completed.

The spectacle will have scores of hardened war planes and helicopters from India and around the world lined up fin to fin on the tarmac. There would a 60-tonne giant passenger plane, the Airbus A330-900, tonne-class nanolight planes, and also tinier drones flying for the first time at the air show for prizes.

The real treat will be two French Rafale fighters, the HAL-built Light Utility Helicopter, and CSIR-National Aerospace Labs’ small civil plane Saras.

Aero India 2019 will have a few special sub-events along with the customary technical conference, such as a drones competition and a start-up challenge on defence-related innovations. The fourth day will be dedicated to women in uniform, as pilots, air traffic controllers, and other IAF experts. All-woman crews are slated to rule the skies on the day. U.S. astronaut and space shuttle commander Sunita Williams is likely to be there, too.

The HAL, which used to be in the thick of handling air show activities in the early years, is back again as the event manager.

The show is organised in odd years by the MoD’s Defence Exhibition Organisation, which now has a new head.

Highlights

Around 5.5 lakh visitors are expected over five days

Buy tickets online, in advance. There will be a latecomer’s counter at the venue

Show time is 10 a.m. to 12 noon; 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on all days

Air display area-only visitors have to take the road via Yelahanka and reach Gates 8-10. Do not take National Highway 7.

Easy and assisted parking at the air base; 20 buses will ferry visitors from the parking spaces to main venues

Many more food courts this time; an Indira canteen each at the ADVA and public parking space

1,000 toilets are being set up, five times more than in 2017

Commuters to Kempe Gowda International Airport should avoid NH7 stretch before the air base and instead take the new alternative road. This will decongest traffic on the road

10,000 students from select institutions and Army schools in Karnataka and other States are being brought in each day to view the show and interact with the IAF at the public viewing area



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