Helicopter professionals for review of new safety rules

The new rules were issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the aftermath of the helicopter crash that claimed the life of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy in September last year.

The rule or Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) cover a wide range of issues including aircraft, their airworthiness, organisational, operational and safety requirements. It also covers aspects ranging from aircraft acquisition to employment of pilots, crew and engineers and their training.

The Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI), an organisation of helicopter professionals, representatives of operators, manufacturers and other related service providers, has suggested a review of this CAR.

Most state governments or operators, which own one or two choppers, may not be able to meet the recurring financial implications of about Rs five crore per annum on this count, apart from the actual operational expenses, it said.

While the RWSI favoured raising investments on safety and related issues, it pointed out that many state governments which have acquired their own choppers would now be required to set up their own operations department with a set of pilots, crew and engineers, safety and operations officers.

"This entails enormous recurring financial implications of about Rs 4.5 crore to Rs 5 crore per annum. Besides, it is also difficult for state governments to get suitably qualified professionals in a short time to operate these posts," RWSI President Air Vice Marshal K Sridharan pointed out.

Of the 14 state governments which own helicopters, 12 have one or two helicopters only. "Can they all afford to meet the Rs five crore plus cost," he asked.

Further, he said the utilisation of these helicopters was less than an average of 30 hours per month, for which high wages have to be paid to the pilots and other staff without their optimal utilisation.

"We, therefore, request DGCA to review the CAR with a view to make it viable, especially when most state governments operate just one helicopter," Sridharan said.

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