Considering that the election season is on and hundreds of politicians are travelling in helicopters, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come up with a slew of guidelines in a recent circular to ensure that helicopter operators heed to safety precautions.
"Election flying is a highly demanding exercise in terms of skill levels, professionalism and tact. Long flying hours, large number of take-offs and landings, weather changes, lack of proper rest and recuperation arrangements, hurriedly prepared helipads, frequent changes in itineraries, time management, commercial interest and language barrier are some of the challenges of election flying," the circular says.
The DGCA has asked all helicopter operators and their pilots to ensure the existence of a suitable helipad at least 24 hours prior to commencing a flight. Pilots would also have to take proper weather briefings of the destinations. The helicopters hired for election campaigns should be airworthy and meet all mandatory requirements before flying.
The guidelines also instruct that there shouldn't be a crowd close to an improvised helipad airstrip, as this is a major problem during such campaigns. It also says that there shouldn't be any obstacles like tall trees or high tension wires in the approach and take-off areas. The operator will have to ascertain from the district administration that the surface of the improvised helipad is level and does not have loose soil which might raise dust.