India has recorded just six helicopter accidents in the past five years, compared with 507 in the United States of America and 15 in the United Kingdom, the civil aviation ministry told a parliamentary committee. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture headed by V. Vijayasai Reddy has observed that many people have lost their lives in helicopter accidents over the decades.
The committee believes that the government should attach great importance to the safety of helicopter operations in the country. The committee may be informed of helicopter accidents/incidents in the country and provide comparisons with accidents/incidents in developed countries over the past few years. The ministry replied on Tuesday that clear guidelines already exist on the visibility and distance from clouds that allow helicopters to fly in a safe manner, and guidelines for flying in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) are mentioned in the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR).
The committee strongly recommends that the ministry thoroughly review existing safety regulations to ensure safe operation of helicopters and further strengthen helicopter safety features and airworthiness checks. The ministry is likely to come up with clear guidelines on weather conditions that allow helicopters to operate in a safe manner and work to issue alerts/warnings to stop helicopters from operating due to adverse weather conditions in specific areas. Additionally, for commercial operations, visibility for special Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flights is mentioned in the CAR, and the same training and qualification requirements are mentioned in the CAR. Additionally, alerts/warnings for adverse weather conditions are done by the respective air traffic services and the same information is available to all operational personnel prior to flight and when submitting air traffic clearances. (Arnie)
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