India establishes corridors for VFR helicopter operations

 - May 3, 2010, 6:43 AM

India has introduced dedicated visual flight route (VFR) corridors for helicopters at the Delhi and Mumbai airports to enhance capacity and efficiency of rotorcraft operations. Helicopter operators, which have been delayed by congestion at the nation’s large airports, have been demanding this change for some time.

The Delhi corridor became operational on March 15, and the Mumbai corridor followed on April 5, according to Capt. Irshad Ahmed, flight operations inspector-helicopters for the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Mumbai has the highest density of helicopter operations, followed
by Delhi.

Before the implementation of the VFR corridor, helicopters operated within the control zone of Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, and Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, and from Juhu Airfield, which lies within the control zone of Mumbai, for oil exploration, tourism and corporate and business purposes. Air traffic congestion at these international airports delayed such helicopter operations.

To overcome this, Airports Authority of India (AAI) designed the VFR helicopter routings and invited suggestions on the routes from helicopter operators. The agency then conducted flight trials, modified routes where required and submitted those routes for scrutiny by concerned Directorates in DGCA before opening the routes for operations.

India’s civil aviation ministry is fast clearing proposals for heliports and helipads to facilitate movements for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi (October). The $428,528 helipad on 10,000 square meters of land is being built by state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters. This helipad will be India’s first greenfield helipad that will be used as a primary hub for operations during the day.

Another heliport–this one at Rohini near Delhi–is planned to cover helicopter operations, parking facilities, MRO and training academy for pilots and technical personnel. Pawan Hans Helicopters has also planned construction of a helipad at sea near the Trident hotel in Mumbai.