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Five Kedarnath chopper operators fined for safety violations
The DGCA has fined five Kedarnath helicopter operators Rs 5 lakh each for violating flying rules and passenger safety. A Bell 407 helicopter of Thumby Aviation Pvt Ltd had gone out of control while landing at the Kedarnath helipad on May 31. The pilot made a very hard landing. Investigations revealed that the helicopter hit the surface of the helipad hard during touchdown, and it bounced and lost direction. The aviation regulator has since issued a strict regimen of do's and don'ts to operators flying in the Himalayas as a rough terrain and hot weather would substantially reduce the ability of the machine.

NEW DELHI, Aug 18: The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has fined five helicopter operators engaged in transporting Char Dham pilgrims to the Kedarnath shrine in the Himalayas for throwing passenger safety to the winds by cutting corners.

The choppers have been fined of Rs 5 lakh each for, among other things, failing to maintain proper flying records. An instance of rough landing was reported on May 31 and subsequent spot checking revealed operational deficiencies and flying records manipulations. Show-cause notices were issued to seven operators for violations of the flying rules.

A Bell 407 helicopter of Thumby Aviation Pvt Ltd had gone out of control while landing at the Kedarnath helipad on May 31. The pilot made a very hard landing. Investigations revealed that the helicopter hit the surface of the helipad hard during touchdown, and it bounced and lost direction.

For all the five operators involved in incorrect maintenance of flying records, a penalty of Rs 5 lakh was awarded while for the two additional operators involved in violation of provisions of Joint SOP, the DGCA has suspended their officials for three months for violation of safety rules.

Kedarnath faces a constraint of a one-way approach. An advisory was issued to the operators: “Adequate precautions are to be taken and if the tail / cross wind component is beyond the permissible limits, the approach is to be abandoned and helicopter is to return to base. With an increase in ambient temperatures and humidity, the power available decreases and consequently the load carrying capability reduces. This fact is to be kept in mind and, if required, the load shall be recalculated and reduced.”

The operators were also advised that while flying to the Kedarnath valley adequate spacing must be maintained. Pilots should also be adequately qualified and must take the mandatory rest period before each flight.

The Char Dham pilgrimage had started on May 6 after a gap of two years due to the covid pandemic.

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