As India enters the final phase of elections carried out in phases over five weeks starting April 7, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued strict safety guidelines for general aviation aircraft operators conducting flights for candidates. It warned that non-compliance could lead to suspension of licenses and air operator permits.
Election flying demands long flying hours; many takeoffs and landings; weather changes; lack of proper rest; hurriedly prepared helipads; time management concerns; stressed security arrangements; congested airspace; difficult and disturbed areas; and lack of adequate communication, all of which “pose serious risks to air travel during elections,” said the DGCA circular.
The circular follows the FAA’s downgrading of India’s aviation safety rating in January, from which the DGCA is still reeling. “Analysis of earlier accidents and incidents…has revealed that laid-down instructions were violated time and again and safety was jeopardized,” the DGCA said.