Helicopter Crash Raises Issues for India’s Regulator
The crash of a chartered Bell 212 helicopter on Sunday in the outskirts of Mumbai that killed five will likely force India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to scrutinize procedures related to preserving wreckage and the altitudes at which helicopters fly.
While ICAO guidelines specify that debris should not be removed from the accident site, the local police did just that. “Rules specify that the first person to take control of the accident site is a DGCA official. Only under his supervision can a postmortem be made. Besides, if debris is indiscriminately removed, what kind of investigation can be conducted?” independent aviation consultant Shakti Lumba told AIN. “The role of the police during aviation accidents is not clear and it should be incorporated as a chapter in police manuals. The DGCA sent a circular 10 years ago to the ministry of home affairs. Nobody knows where that went.”
Meanwhile, a regulation yet to be implemented by the DGCA relates to raising the altitude at which helicopters fly after taking off from Mumbai. Currently, helicopters operating within 30 nm of Mumbai must fly no higher than 500 feet agl, which operators consider too low given the numerous high-rise buildings and high-tension cables throughout the city. “There is no end to [requirements to add expensive] gadgets. What we need are procedures,” helicopter pilot Nasir Hanfee told AIN.