NEW DELHI: With poll campaign in five states picking up, aviation regulator DGCA has expressed concern over safety rules being violated by helicopter and small plane operators "time and again" and directed them to strictly adhere to laid down norms and procedures.
In a bid to ensure safety of VIP flying by helicopter and small aircraft charters, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has shot off letters to chief secretaries of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, providing them with a detailed list of dos and don’ts.
Safety teams of the DGCA would also soon be fanning out to these states for oversight inspections, officials said.
Analysis of earlier accidents and incidents associated with small aircraft or helicopter operations have shown that "laid-down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardized", the DGCA said in a latest circular on flying during election time.
The regulator has also asked the aircraft operators to submit election flying programmes to the regional DGCA offices, the officials said.
The operators and the pilots of helicopters and planes are also being held responsible for the safe upkeep of the equipment and ensure that these should not be released if any defects, even minor, is detected, they said.
The DGCA Air Safety circular, called ‘operation of small aircraft/helicopter – adherence to safety guidelines’, outlines steps to be complied with by the district administration, the charter companies, the pilots and other stakeholders.
The DGCA chief, Mr E K Bharat Bhushan recently met the chiefs of all non-scheduled operators, following which these steps were taken.
The Airports Authority of India has been asked to take steps to ensure proper parking space, avoid air traffic congestion and provide common radio frequency to operators flying in uncontrolled airspace.
The operators and the cockpit crew would require proper coordination with district authorities regarding helipad, safety services including adequate firefighting facilities and ground markers, among other things.
The DGCA, in its circular, has identified several factors which impact flying during electioneering.
These include long flying hours, large number of take-offs and landings, weather changes, lack of proper rest and recuperation arrangements, hurriedly prepared helipads, frequent changes in itinerary, highly stressed security personnel, crowd control, congested airspace, lack of adequate communication and airspace management.