The Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC) is banking on its high-flying members to get its helipad in the Mahalakshmi racecourse operational soon.
On Wednesday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stopped helicopters from taking off and landing from the sole civilian helipad of the city as it found that the size of the helipad was inadequate for big helicopters.
“We are hopeful that the service will be restarted in a few weeks. We will take help from users to get the requisite compliance for the helipad,” said Vivek Jain, chairman, RWITC, adding that the club did not have the expertise to develop the helipad.
During a safety audit conducted earlier this week the aviation regulator found that racecourse helipad is only 10 x 12 metres, which is smaller than the size approved by the DGCA. While small choppers such as Bell 206 can use the helipad, it is not safe for mid-sized copters such as the Bell 412. “The suspension of operations is a precautionary measure to avoid any accident,” said Bharat Bhushan, director general, DGCA.
The audit also found buildings that have come up around the racecourse obstruct the landing and take-off path of the helipad. “We are also planning to shift the helipad to the other end of the course to overcome this problem. It should take us a few months to make the change,” added Jain.
Meanwhile, sources told Hindustan Times on Thursday that the findings of the audit were similar to a check done by the DGCA in 2008. In the previous audit, Mohan Chandran, an official with Aerodrome Standard Monitoring Department of the DGCA, had pointed out the same inadequacies but no action was taken. “How did the helipad manage to get away earlier?” asked a senior DGCA official.
Bhushan did not confirm nor deny the report. “You will have to ask my predecessors about why no action was taken earlier.”