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New aviation rules will ruin our hobby, say Mumbai’s aeromodellers

Mumbai’s aeromodellers said the new draft rules were unfair

mumbai Updated: Nov 15, 2017 19:50 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times
aeromodellers,Directorate General of Civil Aviation,civil aviation requirement
Aeromodelling enthusiast Taran Manakatala, 14, said the age restrictions on pilots will restrict India’s talent.(HT)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released the draft of a new civil aviation requirement (CAR) that seeks to put regulate the use of radio-controlled aircraft and drones. The rules were framed after concerns that global positioning systems (GPS) fixed on drones could make them a security threat.

Aeromodellers said their aircraft are not equipped with such technology, making them harmless. During a meeting in Juhu, on Saturday, aeromodellers drafted a letter that they plan to send to the DGCA, explaining how the CAR could destroy their sport.

They will ask that model aircraft be included in a separate category, such that they can practise in areas away from operative airports, defence installations and densely populated areas. They have demanded that the building and selling of model aircraft and accessories be exempt from any regulatory controls.

According to the Aero Club of India, there are 16,000 aeromodellers and 40 registered clubs in the country. Members participate in competitions organised by Indian Institutes of Technology and other big education institutes, as well as international events. They said that while drones are a potential threat, unmanned machines such as model aircraft are used purely for educational purposes and as a sport.

“Drones entered the public domain around five years ago as a result of advancements in technology. The highly accurate and precise flight path of such machines, along with their ability to fly autonomous give rise to concerns of privacy, safety and security worldwide. However, such concerns do not apply to the conventional type of model aircraft, which are used for, recreational, sports and educational purposes,” said Umesh More, 69, who is an aeromodelling enthusiast.

“The DGCA should frame rules for model aircraft and set reasonable limits. They should consult people who fly model aircraft. They can come up with rules to ensure safety, which we are willing to obey,” said Abhik Muzumdar, director of a not-for-profit group promoting the sport.

Aeromodellers said the new draft rules are unfair. “The draft CAR imposes rules on us as if we are commercial pilots. It says we must undergo training, but no further details have been provided. The hobby will be killed if such impractical rules are implemented,” said Harsheel Mane, an 18-year-old from Pune who has represented the country in international aeromodelling competitions.

Aeromodelling enthusiast Taran Manakatala, 14, said the aviation regulator has lumped model aircraft with drones, which is erroneous. “The technology that drones use is different compared to that of model aircraft. I don’t fly my aircraft near public places. The DGCA has proposed age restrictions on pilots. This will restrict our country’s talent,” he said.

B S Bhullar, director general, DGCA said the draft CAR was meant for consultation purposes. “Anyone is welcome to give their comments or suggestions,” he said.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 19:49 IST