New norms to set up VIP helipads

MUMBAI: Rattled by a series of helicopter mishaps faced by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the state administration has decided to set up helipads only at select places, like MIDC estates, open playgrounds or police parade grounds in and around towns or villages.
The helipads’ radius should be about 500 metres without any cable, wire or highrise building intercepting gliding paths, policy guidelines finalised by the state have suggested. The guidelines were issued by Mantralaya on Friday to local administrative offices across the state.

The basic certification of the site will have to be done by the collector, on whose recommendation the director of the state’s civil aviation wing will inspect and approve it for landings and take-offs, the amended policy suggested.

Civil aviation secretary Valsa Nair Singh confirmed that the policy had been finalised. The guidelines, said sources, have been simplified so that local administrations can follow them easily.
A review of the policy was sought after the Latur mishap, when the CM and his officials escaped with minor injuries. Operators of the helicopters carrying VIPs will also be able to scrutinise the helipad sites before scheduling operations.
“While amending the policy, the state has followed guidelines which exist in Europe and the US. All our regulations can suit conditions needed to operate helicopters weighing around 5,700kg,” senior protocol officers said. The guidelines set by directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) have been incorporated to ensure maximum safety during landings and take-offs.

Another senior official said the biggest roadblock in creating safe helipads was local administrations, especially officials in infrastructure agencies, who have to act in accordance with guidelines while creating helipads. “Delays in budget provisions for helipads is another hurdle in achieving targets,” he added.

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