As electioneering gains momentum and considering the star political campaigners' penchant for using choppers, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has shot off letters to the Chief Secretaries of the five poll-bound States, providing them a list of dos and don'ts to ensure the safety of the VIPs.
Safety teams of the DGCA would soon fan out to Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand for inspections, officials said.
An analysis of earlier accidents and incidents involving small aircraft or helicopters has shown that “laid down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardised,” the DGCA said in the latest circular on flying during election time.
The aviation regulator asked aircraft operators to submit election flying programmes to the regional DGCA offices, official sources said.
The operators and pilots would be held responsible for the upkeep of helicopters and planes and they would have to ensure that these were not released if any defect, even minor, was detected, the sources said.
The DGCA circular, “Operation of small aircraft/helicopter — adherence to safety guidelines,” outlines steps to be complied with by the district administration, the charter companies, pilots and other stakeholders. DGCA chief E.K. Bharat Bhushan has met the chiefs of all non-scheduled operators to review safety steps.
The Airports Authority of India has been asked to ensure proper parking space, avoid air traffic congestion and provide common radio frequency to operators flying in uncontrolled airspace.
The operators and cockpit crew would require proper co-ordination with district authorities on provision of helipads and safety services including firefighting facilities and ground markers.
The DGCA has identified several factors which impact flying during electioneering — long flying hours, a large number of takeoffs 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.