By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. 16th October 2015. A committee of secretaries, headed by the cabinet secretary, will meet on October 20 to give final touches to the civil aviation draft policy, raising hopes that India’s new civil aviation policy will be released by the end of October. Union Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Rajusaid that the draft policy may be out by the end of this month.
He informed this to the media on the sidelines of the International Civil Helicopters Conclave 2015, organized by Pawan Hans to commemorate its foundation day. Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Culture and Tourism (I/C) Dr Mahesh Sharma was also present on the occasion. He said that a new Civil Aviation Policy is in the process of being drafted. Once it is ready, response and comments of stakeholders will be sought, so that a vibrant and forward looking policy can be put in place.
The minister also said that the facility of flying should not be restricted to only the privileged people in the country. We should put policies in place so that flying becomes affordable and reaches the masses. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony Raju called upon all stakeholders to come up with new ideas to give a boost to the civil aviation sector as a whole, and the helicopter industry in the country in particular.
Pawan Hans was incorporated on 15 October 1985 as the Helicopter Corporation of India (HCI), the country’s national helicopter company with the objective of providing helicopter support services to the oil sector for its off-shore exploration operations, services in remote areas and charter services for promotion of tourism. It is a government owned enterprise with 78.5% in government hands & 21.5% with ONGC. ONGC has upped its stake to 49% recently, a move that will see the equity base of PHHL being enhanced to ₹245 crore from the existing ₹1.13 billion.
Speaking on the occasion Dr Mahesh Sharma stressed upon the need to increase helicopter services to the North Eastern and hilly areas of the country where road connectivity is a major problem. He talked about the need to create Helihubs in Delhi and Guwahati to facilitate smooth navigation of helicopters.
Pawan Hans plans to make Guwahati in Assam as its hub for development of the region under a proposed ‘hub-and-spoke’ model and will also set up engineering training and helicopter pilots training institutes in the region, can be achieved by three-tier helicopter services model in remote districts to the smaller heliports, airfields, regional hubs and helipads, which may be operated depending on the daily/weekly needs to connect various small villages and towns and also promote regional tourism. The plan entails an investment of Rs 1,500 crore which include acquisition of helicopters, some fixed wings planes as well as construction of heliports and helipads.
Addressing the conclave R N Choubey, Secretary Civil Aviation said that the new Civil Aviation Policy that is being drafted recognizes the special needs of the helicopter sector and efforts are being made to put in place a separate set of regulations for this sector. He said the helicopter sector needs light touch regulations. The new civil aviation policy, including the policies of DGCA will have such light touch regulations without compromising with overall safety requirements. The Secretary further informed that the proposed Civil Aviation Policy seeks to simplify procedures and remove policy blocks so that more and more people can fly.
He added that regional connectivity and religious tourism using helicopters will be given a major push under the new policy. He said that efforts are on to work out fiscal initiatives for the sector with the Ministry of Finance. He said that talks are on with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to work out ways for a quick and low cost evacuation of victims of road accidents. Talking on the issue of safety of helicopter travel the Secretary informed that GAGAN satellite assisted navigation systems which provide one metre resolution even in unregulated air-space will be used for efficient monitoring and tracking of helicopter movement.
The other news in the making is that Pawan Hans will be listed on the stock exchanges to improve transparency and efficiency. Proposals for listing of AAI and Pawan Hans have been made in the Draft Civil Aviation Policy.
The Minister also inaugurated an exhibition on Safety Management System, Multi Mission Utility and Regional Air Connectivity. He launched the Corporate logo of Pawan Hans Limited and released a coffee table book on the occasion. The conclave marks the 30th anniversary of Pawan Hans Limited. It is a one day event with three technical sessions.. M Sathiyavathy, DG, DGCA, Arun Mishra, Regional Director, ICAO, Dr. B P Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director, Pawan Hans Ltd and other senior officials of the Ministry were also present on the occasion.