After five near mishaps of helicopters involving, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra government has come up with a strict helipad policy.
The government would now construct one helipad in each of the talukas in the state. There are a host of suggestions made by the civil aviation wing of the General Administration Department. There should be a clear demarcation of landing and take off sites, the policy says.
It lays down provisions for areas to be chosen for the helipad site. The pilot will not start the rotor blades or air-conditioning before the VIP boards the helicopter, it further adds.
It says that the directions from the VVIP to keep the rotor blade running prior to boarding should not be entertained. The VVIP should not object to travelling four to five kilometres from the landing site or helipad to the function. Helicopters cannot land near venues of public rallies. Excess baggage too would not be allowed, the policy states.
The policy says that only one piece of luggage not more than 7 kgs will allowed on board.
The district administration will select and notify a clear, obstruction free area measuring to 542 meters. This area will contain a 52x 52 meter main helipad area and 245 meter obstruction free approach and take-off area.
The area should be firm enough capable of withstanding helicopter weight of 5,700 kg.
Preference will be given to areas designated for helipads in industrial parks of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), district police parade grounds and open playgrounds.
The site selected should be level piece of well-drained firm ground, either grass or solid surface free from loose stones and debris.
The approach and take-off area to and from the designated landing site should be obstruction free up to a distance of 245 meter from the edge of the helipad.
The policy lays down a height restriction of 35 meters on buildings in and around the helipad area, which effectively means that no high rise buildings, towers or any construction shall be allowed within 500 meters calculated from the edge of the helipad.
Last month, a helicopter ferrying Fadnavis to Aurangabad was forced to land soon after taking off from Nashik apparently due to overloading.
The private chopper had taken off again successfully for its scheduled journey after offloading one of the passengers and some luggage.
As the helicopter was unable to get the required altitude to fly, some luggage was also off-loaded, an official had said.
On July 7, before take-off in a helicopter from Alibaug near Mumbai, Fadnavis narrowly missed being struck by the chopper's tail rotor when the pilot inexplicably started the engines before the chief minister had boarded.
Security guards accompanying Fadnavis had then pushed him out of harm's way.
On May 25, the rotor of a helicopter carrying Fadnavis tangled with power lines and it crash-landed during take-off from Nilanga in Latur district.
On May 10, a helicopter assigned to ferry Fadnavis to Nagpur crashed before reaching the pick-up location in Gadchiroli.
The most recent one was reported on January 11 when the chopper was on land at Bhayander near Mumbai. The pilot, on noticing that there was a cable wire in the vicinity of the school ground where the helicopter carrying Fadnavis was to land, took it up again.