Tamil Nadu residents could soon avail government’s chopper services to fly across state

Plan would enable helicopter operators to utilise around 80 unused helipads, says TIDCO MD.
According to TIDCO project director, the proposed project would be built upon the central government’s Heli Disha and Heli Sewa initiatives
According to TIDCO project director, the proposed project would be built upon the central government’s Heli Disha and Heli Sewa initiativesFile photo

CHENNAI: Availing helicopter services to reach far flung areas within Tamil Nadu could soon become a reality, as the state government is formulating a mechanism and planning to issue a G.O. to enable the use of helicopters for travel between TN cities and towns, according to Sandeep Nanduri, managing director of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO).

Nanduri stated that the TN government is working out a mechanism which will leverage the National Civil Aviation Policy and the Helicopter Policy of the central government, enabling helicopter operators to utilise around 80 unused helipads across the state to provide connectivity between cities and towns. “This will standardise various services, be it booking or maintenance of helipads,” he added. It is to be noted TIDCO is the nodal agency for facilitating regional air connectivity.

The proposed intra-state service utilising helicopters — and small airplanes — would not just benefit airline operators and enable the ‘common man’ to fly at affordable prices, but also boost the local manufacturing industry and lead to job creation, he added.

TIDCO Project Director B Krishnamoorthy said the scheme would be implemented in phases. It could be utilised for emergency medical services, maintenance of law and order, recreational, medical and religious tourism, organ transportation and ground support services, among other uses, he noted.

The mechanism would be built upon Heli Disha, an administrative guidance manual for helicopter operations, and Heli Sewa, an online portal for providing landing clearance for helicopter operations. The project would involve collaboration between government agencies, helipad and helicopter operators, Krishnamoorthy said.

Further he added that discussions were held with stakeholders in order to understand their key concerns, such as multiple ownership of existing helipads that could make coordination difficult. For instance, according to sources, there are four helipads in Tiruchy city and they belong to AAI, TN Special Police, Bharathidasan University and BHEL respectively.

Moreover, Krishnamoorthy stated that TIDCO would establish minimum standards for each helipad in the project — fencing, approach cone clearance, passenger facilities, availability of electricity and water — and identify helipad custodians for the same.

It is learned that TIDCO will identify existing helipads/ports owned by state agencies, and also identify locations with high traffic potential to establish new helipads/ports.

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