Aero sports set to get a boost under new policy
The draft National Aerosports Policy covers air sports activities such as air-racing, aerobatics, aeromodelling, hang gliding, paragliding, paramotoring, vintage aircraft, ballooning, drones and skydiving.
Given the right impetus, India could be one of the top air sports nations by 2030 because of its vast size, varied terrain and fair weather conditions, the civil aviation ministry said in a proposed aero sports policy.
The policy, which has been in the works for about a year, covers activities such as air racing, aerobatics, aeromodelling, hang gliding, paragliding, paramotoring, flying vintage aircraft, ballooning, operating drones and skydiving.
Besides the revenue from air sports activities, multiplier benefits in terms of growth in travel, tourism, infrastructure and local employment, especially in hilly areas of the country, are much greater, the government said. Creating air sports hubs across the country will bring in air sports professionals and tourists from across the world, according to the draft policy released on Saturday.
“Air sports by their very nature involve a higher level of risk than flying a regular aircraft. NASP 2022 places strong focus on ensuring international best practices in safety,” said the document, which has been placed in the public domain to seek feedback.
India will establish an Air Sports Federation that will regulate and oversee the sporting activities in the country. The federation will represent India at the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the global governing body for air sports headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The draft policy requires all people and entities providing air sports services to register as members of respective air sports associations. They will also have to register key equipment used for air sports with their associations.
Indian airspace is divided into red, yellow and green zones, according to the DigitalSky platform of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which allows air sports enthusiasts to rely on the easily accessible map for guidance.
Operations in red zones require a permission from the central government, and yellow zones need approval by the concerned air traffic control authorities. Operation in green zones for aircraft with total weight of up to 500kg does not require any permission.
Locations such as Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh, also known as India’s paragliding capital, Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra and Vagamon in Kerala will be declared as control zones for air sports that would require approvals from the federal home and defence ministries, the concerned state government and the local air traffic control.
“This will enable hassle-free flying by air sports enthusiasts in such control zones without creating any risk to national security or safety of other manned aircraft,” the draft policy said.
“During peak winters, the level of air sports reduces in Europe and North America, and the air sports aficionados migrate to milder climates. ASFI and the air sports associations will work towards developing a hassle-free process to enable their movement to India,” it pointed out. “This will enable Indian air sports enthusiasts to learn from the experience of the visiting professionals, get exposed to global best practices and create opportunities to host global competitions in India.”
The government will also consider allowing import of air sports equipment without any levies for a specified number of years. Schools, colleges and universities will be encouraged to have air sports included in their curriculum, the policy proposes.
In order to make air sports affordable to all, the government will request the GST Council to consider rationalizing tax rates on air sports equipment to 5% or less, the draft said.