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Green signal for PHTI an MoD dampener for gliding enthusiasts

IAF 2 Wing was against chopper operations.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni |
October 25, 2012 3:32:13 am

IAF 2 Wing was against chopper operations

The Pawan Hans Helicopter Training Institute (PHTI) coming up at the Hadapsar Gliding Centre has received the Ministry of Defence (MoD) green signal. This has surprised many,including gliding enthusiasts,as it has cast aside objections raised by the Lohegaon-based Indian Air Force (IAF) 2 Wing.

IAF 2 Wing had objected to the institute citing sensitivity of the Lohegaon IAF station nearby. While the NOC issued about a week ago will mean further progress in the PHTI – which is already being developed – it is a dampener for gliding enthusiasts who fear it would spell the doom for gliding activity. One of them said it would be the beginning of the end of gliding activity in the city and the country.

The PHTI is coming up on 30 acres that originally belongs to the Gliding Centre. Along with training,Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) reportedly has plans to provide helicopter connectivity to nearby destinations.

An officer of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) confirmed the NoC. The Indian Express had on October 6 reported that IAF Station Lohegaon had objected to the helicopter academy at Hadapsar citing security reasons. Air Commodore V R Chaudhari,Air Officer Commanding (AOC),2 Wing had then said,“We have recommended (to the Air HQ) not to issue an NOC in view of national security. We have both fighter operations and civilian flights here. There is no space.”

A gliding enthusiast,on the condition of anonymity,said,“This is the beginning of the end of gliding activity in the city and in turn the country. Examples from across the country have always shown that glider operations cannot take place at aerodromes where there is powered flying. The NOC means PHHL will now go ahead and start the training institute. There is also the possibility of the PSU starting helicopter connectivity to nearby destinations. Once the land becomes a heliport,it is hard to believe gliding activity will still continue.”

It may be noted that the three helipads being constructed at GCP can facilitate landing and take off of Mi-172,the heaviest choppers in the PHHL inventory.

A veteran pilot said,“Two days ago,we learnt about the NOC. After the reports that IAF permission had not come through for PHTI,we were hoping permission would be denied to PHHL to operate helicopters from the gliding centre. But we believe permission has come far too easily for PHHL. Yes,there have been cases abroad where powered flying and gliding co-exist. However,looking at the way the government machinery functions in India,I feel things are worsening for the gliding centre.”

However,the DGCA official said,“As per the gazette notification,the gliding centre land is a glider dome. It is the brainchild of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. Gliding will continue as it is the core activity of the place.”

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