ALMOST TWO WEEKS after a helicopter ferrying a couple on a joyride crashed into the hilly slopes of Aarey colony in Goregaon claiming three lives, operators handling similar joyrides said demand has dipped sharply since the incident. While inquiries continue to come from prospective clients, not even half are converted into actual bookings. On December 11, a Robinson R44 helicopter operated by Aman Aviation crashed, killing the pilot and the passenger couple. While the reason of the crash is still being investigated, clutch failure was prima facie reported as the reason for the malfunction, according to information available with the Juhu Air traffic Control (ATC).
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Unlike in past years when the joyride business would be on its peak in November and December, companies associated with joyride have reported a decline of 30-40 per cent in business this month.
“We are receiving fewer bookings for joyrides as compared to the same time last year. Fear among people after the crash seems to be the primary reason,” said Nandan, Yagna Aviations, which also conducts joy rides.
Along with Pawan Hans, Aman Aviation and Yagna Aviations are the other two operators who have been offering joyrides from Juhu aerodrome for several years. While Aman has suspended rides for a temporary period, Yagna is likely to resume operations from January 1.
“At present, our choppers are undergoing maintenance and required safety audits. While we received a lot of inquiries from people, not many were translated into actual bookings. In fact inquiries about the age of the chopper, which company rode it earlier, manufacturing details, hours of experience of the pilot have been constant,” Nandan added.
They have confirmed 34 riders as of now to opt for rides in January once the service resumes.
“What will happen now is riders will carefully listen to safety details dictated to them before the flight and while on-board. Safety instructions from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) — the air safety authority — could become tighter,” Nandan added.
At present, Juhu aerodrome witnesses no joyrides as opposed to at least 6 rides they would take in a week before the crash. However, Aman Aviations conducted two joyrides on December 17 and 18 for two families who did not wish to be refunded.