Following two mishaps with choppers during relief and rescue operations in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand over the past week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended helicopter operations for relief work in the state in situations of natural disasters till the state comes out with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for safe operation.
Till then, the state government will have to seek the Chief Flight Operations Inspector’s (CFOI) permission to use helicopters for relief work.
Taking cognizance of both the incidents, the DGCA on Saturday held a meeting in New Delhi with officials of the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA) and representatives of the two aviation firms whose helicopters met with mishaps.
The state government is allowed to continue operation of the state’s fleet helicopters for the movement of the Chief Minister, the Governor and ministers.
Chief Executive Officer of UCADA, Dilip Jawalkar, told The Indian Express, “For use of helicopters in the relief operations, operational access control will be with DGCA. When there will be requirement like in any emergency situation, the CFOI will be contacted for permission for helicopter operations.” Jawalkar confirmed that DGCA has asked UCADA to make SOPs.
According to sources, the CFOI will give permission on a case-to-case basis and it will also directly supervise the operation of helicopter from its headquarters in the national capital.