In order to nullify the obstruction of several high-rises around the proposed heliport at Mahalaxmi Racecourse, the government has prepared a plan, as per which the take off and landing will take place from the same side.
Civil aviation ministry officials said the state is keen on the heliport’s development and a joint team from the BMC, Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation and Airport Authority of India (AAI) is already in the process of working out details.
“The tall structures around the racecourse are creating hurdles. Hence, we found the same direction (seaside) for take-off and landing feasible for the project,” said a senior AAI official. He added that the other activities at the racecourse, such as horse-racing, won’t be affected as it happens only for about two days a week during the non-monsoon months.
“But horse polo will have to be relocated as the proposed runway goes over it,” said a state official.
As per the plan, exclusively available to dna, the runway’s length will be 500m and the width 90m, with parking space for more than four helicopters, a terminal building with control tower and fire station among other things.
The project is expected to have country’s first night-landing facility with regard to heliport and is likely to work on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), officials said. The project will not only help during emergency situations, like a terror attack, or a natural calamity, like the 2005 deluge, it will also help in aircraft movements of VIPs, including PMs and presidents, whose visits otherwise put a lot of strain on road traffic in the city. The state has sought in-principal approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Currently, the only helipad for civilian use in South Mumbai isn’t ideal for helicopter movement in the area due to logistical deficiencies. It is used by corporates, including the Ambanis.
However, Captain Uday Gelli, president (west region), Rotary Wing Society of India, said, “I doubt the IFR and night-landing facility will materialise at the heliport as the CSIA, which has a similar mode of operations, is a short distance away. Two IFR airports cannot operate in close proximity.”