Huge potential for use of helicopters in India: veteran pilot

"There is huge potential of the use of utility helicopters in the north-eastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand region, which are mostly hilly and not easily accessible," Captain Patrick Fauchere, a veteran helicopter pilot with flying experience of over 20 years, said during a seminar organised here by Eurocopter.

Utility helicopters could be immensely useful in these states for carrying out various development projects especially in power and infrastructure sectors, he said, adding, it would help the development of areas inaccessible by other means of transport, thus saving time and money.

He said while a vast country like India has just 290 helicopters, in Europe, even a small country like Switzerland has more than 300 choppers.

Helicoptes in Europe are not only used for general aviation activities like ferrying passengers but are largely used in various development projects, he said.

"In France, a power supply company uses helicopters not only for inspections or laying of high voltage power supply lines but also for routine maintenance work," he said, adding, this saves valuable time and money.

Noting that India has not developed enough in terms of helicopter business, he said an urgent relook is needed to be cast at the rules which prevent extensive use of choppers in areas apart from general aviation.

Regulatory authority could look into this and may even follow the European or the US model for helicopter operations, he said.

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