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Crash exposes dangerous gaps in helicopter services to Kedarnath

Wednesday, 19 October 2022 | PNS | DEHRADUN

The helicopter crash near Kedarnath in which seven persons died on Tuesday has once again highlighted the failure of helicopter service companies to observe safety measures and the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities to monitor them and ensure observance of the regulations. What is interesting to note is that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which is responsible for monitoring the activities of these companies has no office in Kedarnath. One official on the condition of anonymity said that there is no DGCA monitoring of the helicopter companies and in its absence the helicopter service provider companies are violating all norms. “The helicopter operators are under considerable pressure to make money. The heavy workload and work pressure in such hostile conditions could be the reason for the accident,’’ he said.

The pictures of SDRF personnel engaging in search operation of the debris clearly show that the weather conditions were bad and may not have been conducive for flying. In such conditions the operators should have suspended the flight or could have waited for the weather to clear but despite this the pilot took a decision to fly. The locals point out that there is no fire control equipment at any of the helipads situated in and around Kedarnath. Further, the helicopters seldom maintain the altitude they are supposed to maintain and instead fly through the valley purportedly to save fuel. The authorities have given permission to nine companies to operate in Kedarnath. The Aryan Aviation company operates from Guptkashi, Thumbi from Jamu, Pawan Hans from Fata, Crystal Aviation from Badasu, Himalayan Aviation from Shersi, Aeron from Guptkashi, Chipson from Jamu and Pinnacle from Maikhanda. The helicopter services operate from dawn to dusk ferrying the passengers continuously. The passengers visiting Kedarnath are also known to frequently complain about the services of the helicopter companies and the State government on various aspects.

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