Udan scheme: Choppers may use airports as no heliport come up in designated routes

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Published: March 3, 2019 7:14:51 AM

A total of 24 heliports are to be developed in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.

The chopper services were introduced under the subsidised air travel scheme under round II of Udan to push tourism in hilly areas and connect places where airports are unfeasible.

With heliports yet to come up more than a year after chopper routes were announced, the ministry of civil aviation is now looking to connect airports to launch helicopter operations under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
No heliport has come up so far under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (Udan) scheme since 76 helicopter routes, mainly in hilly regions, were awarded in January 2018.

A senior government official said state-owned Pawan Hans could be allowed to fly helicopters between existing airports in Himachal Pradesh. “It is one of the proposals to kick-start helicopter operations under Udan. Himachal has three airports and it is easier to mark a helipad at existing facilities,” the official said.
Airports at Shimla, Bhuntar and Kangra in the state could be connected with scheduled chopper services with proposed helipads at Kasauli, Manali and Mandi yet to come up.

A total of 24 heliports are to be developed in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.
“The state governments have been slow in constructing heliports. Some have not even identified sites. They are likely to take more time as they have to be licensed by the regulator,” the official added.

The ministry was earlier looking to launch helicopter services by the end of this month.
Recently, minister of state of civil aviation Jayant Sinha said there are not many well-capitalised companies in the country. “The challenge right now with helicopters is that we don’t have sufficient well-capitalised companies that can really take a long-term view on helicopters and build out a helicopter business in India,” Sinha said at the CAPA India Aviation Summit 2019 last week.

The chopper services were introduced under the subsidised air travel scheme under round II of Udan to push tourism in hilly areas and connect places where airports are unfeasible.

Pawan Hans, in which the government holds 51% stake, bagged 46 routes under competitive bidding. Skyone Airways, Heritage Aviation and Heligo Charters are other operators of helicopter services.

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