For the first time in India, air sports such as paragliding or hot-air ballooning will come under a four-tier governance structure with the Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) as the apex body which will oversee aspects such as regulation, certification, accidents and penalties.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister for Civil Aviation on Tuesday unveiled the national air sports policy.
“We need to look at new areas, not just those which have seen maturity and high growth but also those where new seeds can be sown. Air sports is one such area which has the ability to transform into a huge industry. The vast geographical expanse that can allow a wide diversity of air sports in the country with India’s vast youth population makes it an industry ripe for the picking, but it lacked until today an architecture to propel it forward,” the Minister said at a press conference.
He said that the air sports industry in the country was today worth ₹80-100 crore, with nearly 5,000 providers, which could grow 10 times in terms of revenue and yield 1 lakh direct jobs apart from a multiplier impact on the economy.
The policy lays down a four-tier governance structure with the ASFI at the top, followed by national associations for individual sports and their regional and district level units.
The ASFI will be an autonomous body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) which will represent India at global platforms related to air sports such as the World Air Sports Federation (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) and will also conduct competitions across the country through different national air sports associations.
The ASFI will provide governance over different aspects such as regulation, certification, competitions, awards and penalties, and will publish its draft guidelines within a period of six months.
It will be chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, who will nominate upto three eminent experts related to air sports as members of the ASFI governing council. Sports that will come under its ambit are aeromodelling, model rocketry, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding, powered gliding, parachuting, paramotoring, powered aircraft and rotorcraft.
“Initially, these bodies will receive financial support from MoCA. It is a virtuous cycle, because once we have our teams participating in international events, more funds will flow in,” said Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Air sports associations will be solely responsible for specifying safety standards, and the ASFI will provide oversight. Accidents will have to be reported within 48 hours to the association the sport is affiliated with.
Air sports providers will have to obtain clearance from the air traffic controller and areas in the country that see frequent air sports activities such as Bir Biling or Rishikesh in Uttarakhand could be given a segregated airspace.
The government will also look at various incentives to encourage the sport such as reducing GST on air sports equipment from 18%-28% to 5% or less, Minister Scindia said.
Other initiatives could include reduction in import duty for a limited period and a production-linked incentive scheme to boost domestic manufacturing of such equipment.