Chopper operations come under scrutiny as State elections near

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on January 13, 2012

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has come out with stringent rules for helicopter operators. — A. Roy Chowdhury

DGCA calls for meeting of operators next week to emphasise on safety

With elections to five State Assemblies round the corner, the safety of helicopter operations and flights from a number of airports, including Lucknow and Varanasi, are to be looked at more closely.

During election times, helicopters and small aircraft are much in demand from political parties as the preferred mode of travel for transporting key speakers from one rally to another, across the country. One of the biggest advantages that helicopters enjoy over other smaller aircraft is that they can land and take off in relatively small space and do not require an airport.

Invariably, the ease of operations also leads to accidents, some of which have been fatal during or in the build-up to election campaigns. Analysis of earlier accidents associated with small aircraft/helicopters operations showed that laid down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardised, sources said.

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has now mandated that the flight crew should ensure completed stoppage of helicopter rotors, aircraft propellers before permitting embarkation or disembarkation of passengers. All non-scheduled/private helicopter operators and their pilots have also been asked to ensure that at least 24 hours before to the flight the existence of a suitable helipad is confirmed in writing.

“The aviation watch dog has not only come out with more stringent rules but also plans to conduct spot surveillance checks to ensure safety of helicopter operations,” a person familiar with the development said. A meeting of all helicopter operators has also been called early next week to emphasis the importance of safety.

Industry watchers say that the ruling party has already hired two 10-seater Dauphin helicopters from the state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd for election purposes. Polling in five States including Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur begins on January 30 and ends on March 3.

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Published on January 13, 2012
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