The sky over the city will soon become clearer - not because of reduced pollution, but smoothened air traffic. Choppers will soon have a dedicated corridor, 15 nautical miles away from the airport, so that passenger flights do not face any interference.
This means a chopper carrying a corporate honcho or a politician from the Mahalaxmi racecourse towards Vashi cannot fly above the airport but along a specified flight path 15 miles away from the airport. Around 80 helicopters take off from the Juhu Aerodrome every day - it accounts for 75 per cent of the helicopter traffic in the country followed by Delhi and Pune.
These choppers ferry corporate bigwigs and VIPs - industrialist Anil Ambani uses one to reach the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City in Koparkhairane - and employees of offshore rigs. Defence helicopters and amusement helicopter rides too add to the chopper traffic.
Juhu’s proximity to the city airport makes chopper movements a massive hindrance for incoming and outgoing flights. The Mumbai airport handles about 700 take-offs and landings daily.
“Choppers operating from Juhu certainly intrude flights taking off or landing on the both runways,” said a Mumbai airport official, requesting anonymity for lack of authority to speak to the media.
The decision for a dedicated helicopter corridor was taken at a recent meeting in New Delhi chaired by the Joint Secretary of Civil Aviation Ministry, Arun Mishra.
Sources in the civil aviation ministry told Hindustan Times that trials for are expected to begin from next week.
“We are ready to try this out,” said a senior air traffic control official, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
“A dedicated corridor would ensure that chopper movement does not intrude on scheduled air traffic. It would ease congestion.”