DGCA asks chopper operators to ensure no unauthorised cash is carried on board ahead of elections

Assembly elections in five states and Lok Sabha elections is scheduled in next one year

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DGCA asks chopper operators to ensure no unauthorised cash is carried on board ahead of elections
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Anticipating increase in usage of helicopters by VIP's for poll campaigning ahead of Karnataka Assembly polls next month, followed by Lok Sabha elections next year, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has directed to all helicopter operators and crew members to ensure that no unauthorised cash, arms or narcotics is carried on board during 'election flying'.

'Election flying' is a terms used for helicopters being used during election campaigns. DGCA has also directed to adhere all safety guidelines for flying during election. Assembly elections in five states is scheduled in next one year — Karnataka, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh.

In a circular issued by BS Bhullar, Director General of Civil Aviation, it was stated, "Number of guidelines and circulars have been issued in the past for ensuring safety of air operations by helicopters. Analysis of earlier accidents, incidents associated with helicopter has revealed that laid down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardised."

"Operator and crew shall ensure that no unauthorised cash, arms, ammunition and narcotics or illegal items are carried on board helicopter as laid down in the guidelines of Election Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India," the circular reads.

The circular further points out that route planning should be done in a manner so as to avoid terrorist infested areas and areas which impede search and rescue operations. It adds that the flight crew and operators should ensure that adequate safety measures are taken during landing and taking off further ensuring that capabilities and limitations of the helicopter are not exceeded.

DGCA has also said that  non-compliance of instructions shall be viewed very seriously, which may lead to even suspension of operations or pilots licence for specified period that has been done frequently in the recent past. 

The circular issued by DGCA listed do's and don'ts for helicopter operators, pilots and crews. The list includes requirements during operations, safety measures to be taken and information on consequences in case of failing to adhere the directions. It points that proper screening of baggage is done before loading baggage into the helicopter.

In the recent past, several head of the states and politicians travelling for election campaigns have experienced helicopter crash resulting in deaths or injuries. For instance, in case of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis his helicopter has had a close save around four times in the past few years wherein emergency landing of his helicopter had to be done due to technical glitches.

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