Chopper lanes take off
On Monday morning, the pilot of an Eon Aviation chopper flying from Juhu Aerodrome to Mahalaxmi was more relaxed than usual because he used one of the city’s 16 dedicated chopper corridors.mumbai Updated: Apr 06, 2010 01:11 IST
On Monday morning, the pilot of an Eon Aviation chopper flying from Juhu Aerodrome to Mahalaxmi was more relaxed than usual because he used one of the city’s 16 dedicated chopper corridors.
After a long delay and several trials, Mumbai now has flight paths demarcated for helicopters.
Pilots can now breathe easy because they will not have to worry about scheduled traffic coming from the other side or loosing radio contact with the air traffic controller.
For instance, take the route K012 from Mahalaxmi Race Course to Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City (DAKC) in Navi Mumbai, often frequented by industrialist Anil Ambani.
After taking off from the race course, the chopper will climb up to a height of 1,000 ft, fly along the coastline to Bandra Point keeping the TV tower at Worli to the right and then head to DAKC via Kalina keeping the Powai Hills on the left.
Air traffic managers have chalked 16 such one-way lanes for the city. Different tracks — most of them at 500 ft or 700 ft height — have been planned for flying east, west, north and south within the city. It’s like a one-way, fast lane of sorts for helicopters.
“It is safer because you and the controller knows that the chopper is travelling on a dedicated path,” said Raghu Das, a pilot with Eon Aviation, a private helicopter company.
Air congestion will now automatically ease because scheduled flight movement will operate as usual at 25,000 ft while choppers carrying VIPs can stick to their own flight path.
“It will help in shortening certain routes, thereby saving on fuel consumption,” said Arun Lohiya, chief operating officer, Bafna Air, a Vile Parle-based private chartered company.
These lanes are necessary because Mumbai accounts for 75 per cent of the helicopter traffic in the country, followed by Delhi and Pune.
According to industry estimates, monthly air hours recorded by chopper operations in Mumbai ranges between 1,900 and 2,000 hours. About 12,000-12,500 people use the chopper service every month. Also, around 30,000-32,000 kg of cargo is airlifted every month from the 30-odd oilrigs in the Arabian Sea.
The chopper lanes have been demarcated away from the Mumbai airport and as a result, the distance of some routes have increased. Till now, the proximity of the Juhu Aerodrome to the city airport often led to congestion.