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Chopper rides at Rose Festival: More than 150 tickets sold but no safety plan in place so far

WITH JUST three days left for the much-awaited helicopter rides at the Rose Festival, the Municipal Corporation is still unclear about the procedures for the safety audit of the two aircraft that will ferry people throughout the day. According to air safety officers at Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), not only must the operator […]

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | Published: February 15, 2017 8:20:06 am
File photo of the Choppers supposed to fly over Rose Garden and other parts during Rose Fest in Chandigarh. Express photo File photo of the Choppers supposed to fly over Rose Garden and other parts during Rose Fest in Chandigarh. Express photo

WITH JUST three days left for the much-awaited helicopter rides at the Rose Festival, the Municipal Corporation is still unclear about the procedures for the safety audit of the two aircraft that will ferry people throughout the day. According to air safety officers at Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), not only must the operator get clearances for the aircraft from DGCA, but under the existing norms, there has to be a team of experts, including ground engineers, to ensure that the chopper is technically fit for flying throughout the day. Going by the number of tickets that have been sold so far, the two choppers — Eurocopters AS350B3 — will need to make over 30 rounds. The number of rides may increase depending on the ticket sales. Until now, more than 150 tickets have been sold.

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Asked if a safety plan was submitted before applying for permission, Additional Deputy Commissioner Rajiv Gupta said, “In the letter we got from MC, they have just mentioned that permission may be granted as they are holding such rides. So then we said that NOC may be submitted by air traffic control, police, estate office and other officials and only then permission may be given. It is the responsibility of MC and the operator to ensure the safety of people.”

Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi said that he was not aware of it and to ensure safety was the duty of the organiser. SP Eish Singhal, too, said he did not know anything about the safety aspect of the event.

Joint Commissioner of MC Shilpy Pattar and Municipal Commissioner Baldeo Purushartha did not respond to calls or messages. A K Dhadhwal, the official in charge of making the arrangements for the chopper rides, said, “We have everything with us. There is no need to enquire so much.”

Asked if there would be ground engineers and other technical experts to check the chopper before it takes off, Dhadhwal was unable to reply and disconnected the call. The company officials will just get passengers manifest filled from the passenger before he or she boards the helicopter.

An air safety officer from the DGCA told Chandigarh Newsline, “Before the chopper comes out of the hangar, the operator needs a clearance from the DGCA that it is technically safe for flying. It has to comply with DGCA norms. Then before the flying takes place, though not before every ride, the experts, including ground engineers, will again ensure that the helicopter is ready for take-off.”

The CEO of the company did not respond to queries by Chandigarh Newsline. The company has already sold tickets even though it still has to obtain requisite permissions. One ticket for seven minutes will cost Rs 3,500. The helicopter will fly at 7,000 ft after taking off from Sector 17 Parade Ground, fly over Sukhna Lake and the Rose Garden, and return to the Parade Ground.

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