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History of Aurangabad Airport - First flight in Aurangabad City


In that year the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, in order to demonstrate the new art to the General Staff in India, sent out to Calcutta an expedition consisting of a manager, the French pilot Monsieur H. Jullerot, two British mechanics, and three Bristol box-kites fitted with 50 horse-power Gnome engines. The first aeroplane was erected on the Calcutta racecourse, and flew in the presence of a huge crowd of spectators. There were cavalry manœuvres that year in the Deccan, and General Rimington, who was organizing them, set aside a part of his manœuvre grant to enable Captain Brancker to bring an aeroplane and take part in them. 

The aeroplane arrived at Aurangabad early in January 1911,. Perhaps world’s first reconnaissance flights took place in it on January 15 and 16. The Boxkite was assembled in open ground next to the Aurangabad railway station and was hastily erected under a tree by the two mechanics, assisted by six willing and jocular privates of the Dublin Fusiliers. It was ready forty-eight hours after detrainment, just in the nick of time. The first flight was made by M. Jullerot and Captain Brancker, the day before the manœuvres began, in the presence of twelve generals, one of whom was Sir Douglas Haig, at that time Chief of the Staff in India, and a numerous company of staff (p. 422) officers. Next morning the aeroplane was attached to the northern force at Aurangabad, whose task was to drive back the rearguard of a southern force retreating towards Jalna. Captain Brancker and M. Jullerot made a flight of about twenty-seven miles at a height of 1,100 feet, and the hostile rearguard was accurately located. A full report was in the hands of the commander of the northern force in less than an hour and a half from the time of his demand for information.

Subsequent flights were less successful; indeed, the next morning the aeroplane crashed from a height of a hundred feet; the two aviators escaped with a few scratches, but the machine was reduced to matchwood. Nevertheless, the first thorough performance by a military aeroplane of a really practical military mission deeply impressed General Sir O'Moore Creagh, the then Commander-in-Chief, and, had it not been for lack of money, he would have started a flying organization in India a year before the Flying Corps in England came into being. (Extracts from: The Project Gutenberg e-Book of The War in the Air, Vol_ 1; Author Walter Raleigh.) Note : Aurangabad was then part of Nizam's Hyderabad & thus the event is part of Hyderabad's avaition history too.

PROGRESS
In the early 1990s, the Government of Maharashtra attempted to develop tourism in Aurangabad district (Ajanta, Ellora, Daulatabad and Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad city) but the project failed to take off. Late in the decade the government awarded it to JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation), which planned, financed and implemented the project. JBIC was to assist in several ways – monument conservation, airport expansion, upgrading roads to the monuments, improving water quality, expanding electrical service and implementing a visitor-management system. Funds required for the first phase were INR 817.1 million, of which INR 694.8 million was allocated by JBIC. This phase concentrated on the basic infrastructure and necessary amenities in and around Aurangabad. The second phase (costing INR 3.60 billion) received about INR 3 billion from JBIC, with the remainder from the agencies involved.

UPGRADES
As part of the overall development (and to facilitate tourist traffic) it was decided to upgrade the facilities at Aurangabad airport in phases, costing around INR 1.30 billion. The first phase included extending and reinforcing the runway, a new taxiway, construction of a boundary wall and other improvements; this was completed in 2005. The second phase included a new, integrated terminal building and technical complex to handle domestic and international air traffic. The cost was INR 996.7 million, of which the JBIC contributed INR 6 million and AAI (Airports Authority of India) contributed the remainder. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel laid the foundation of the second phase in January 2007, promising it would be completed within a year; the airport opened in November 2008.

One of the most daunting problems faced by airport management at Aurangabad was that of parking space for the aircraft, since the old apron could only accommodate one wide-bodied aircraft; this hampered regular flights out of the airport and prevented its use by foreign chartered flights. In the second phase a new apron (measuring 500 by 400 ft) was built, accommodating up to four wide-bodied Airbus aircraft. The old apron will continue to accommodate one Airbus and one ATR aircraft. Parking for five to six aircraft is now available, enabling chartered flights and increasing international tourist traffic.

REOPENING
The opening ceremony took place on 21 November 2008 before Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. The maiden flight was to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), carrying pilgrims for Hajj. National air carrier Air India launched its direct flight to Jeddah for Hajj, using an Airbus 310 with 200 hajis aboard from the newly constructed terminal in Aurangabad. With this, Aurangabad became the 17th airport in the country from which Hajj flights depart. The airport opened to regular traffic on 3 March 2009. A Jet Airways Mumbai-Aurangabad flight landed at 8:05 am, the first scheduled flight to use Aurangabad Airport’s new terminal.

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