Government announces new policy aimed at boosting helicopter services in India

Published : October 09, 2021 15:10 IST

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI

Bengaluru’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Airport, which until its closure to scheduled commercial flights in May 2008 was one of India’s busiest airports, might just bounce back and regain its former status. The Centre has designated HAL airport as one of India’s four “Heli-hubs” as part of its new helicopter policy. The other hubs are Mumbai’s Juhu, Assam’s Guwahati and Delhi. The new policy comes in the wake of the government’s intention to make helicopter penetration a priority in India.

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia announced the salient features of the new policy during the Third Helicopter Summit 2021 organised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Industry and Commerce (FICCI) and supported by the Government of Uttarakhand and Pawan Hans Ltd in Dehradun.

He besides the four Heli-hubs, dedicated helicopter corridors will soon be developed across 10 cities and 82 already identified routes. Said Scindia: “As a beginning, we are going to start with three dedicated corridors for helicopters: Juhu-Pune-Juhu, Mahalakshmi Race Course-Pune-Mahalakshmi Race Course and Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar.”

The new policy aims to bring about a radical shift in the government’s thinking: all landing charges and parking deposits for helicopters or helicopter companies will henceforth be abolished in a bid to boost commercial helicopter operations.

Scindia added that the Central government will put together a dedicated helicopter-acceleration cell in the Ministry of Civil Aviation which will look at the helicopter industry’s issues and help instill an ease of doing business.

Under the new policy, he said, the government will be upgrading a centralised “Heli-Seva” portal and all permissions for a helicopter flight will be granted online. The Minister also disclosed that officers both from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Air Traffic Control (ATC) will engage with helicopter industry stakeholders so that adequate training is given to all individuals regarding issues concerning helicopters.

A comprehensive booklet containing information regarding regulations and issues related to the size, weight, flight parameters, viability and operations of a helicopter would soon be given to every Collector/Deputy Commissioner of every district. The booklet, “Heli-Disha” which was released on October 8, it is hoped would create the much-needed awareness about helicopters and their flight operations in district administrations across India.