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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
EXCLUSIVE! Helicopter operators say DGCA impractical on some orders
Jan 17, 2012
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has for the first time met with around 45 stakeholders associated with helicopter operations- pilots, OEMs and operators to discuss adherence to safety guidelines during the upcoming elections. Last week, the DGCA had issued an air safety circular on various issues related to operation of small aircraft and helicopters.
While the DGCAs attempt to engage the industry has been applauded, there is serious concern about the implementation of a pre-flight medical checkup for all flights during the elections. “We cannot carry a doctor with us on every flight. We fly to remote helipads around the country. This is not practically thought out at all,” says an operator. There are some 700-800 temporary helipads.
Ground Handling at airports for general aviation has been a stressful point for operators forced to pay around Rs 15,000 for every sortie. “While this is perhaps OK for business jets, for helicopters, it totally eats into our margins.” The practice was started one and a half years ago, when earlier Rs 2000 was charged by the Airports Authority of India’s. “Pilots are being harassed in tier two cities,” explains a pilot. Now DGCA has promised to return to the old practice. It is to be seen when the circular will go out.
During elections when speed is of the essence, the DGCA directive to inform the Election Commissioner of the passenger manifesto and flight plans 24 hours in advance is going to affect business says an operator.
There is however, praise among the pilot community wherein they can refuse to fly if safety is an issue. Bullying by politicians just won’t do any more!