Believe it or not, only two state governments in the country operate their aircraft with permits. The rest evidently make do with the clout wielded by the chief ministers, state ministers and other VIPs they fly. There are currently 14 helicopters and 21 aircraft operated by state governments.
As on date, there is no defined or laid down regulations for such operations though states register aircraft under normal and passenger category. Currently, all state governments (except those in the North-East, Himachal Pradesh and Orissa) have helicopters/aircraft for use by VIPs. These facts were brought out in a meeting organised by the Civil Aviation Ministry to review the safety of state government aircraft.
Evidently propelled by the recent helicopter crash which killed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy and a host of accidents involving VIPs, the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) is now set to crack the whip by issuing detailed regulations with instructions for operations, airworthiness and safety aspects. State governments shall now be required to obtain air service authorization from DGCA within 4 months and upgrade their existing resources and facilities to ensure higher safety. The DGCA will also step up oversight to ensure adherence to new requirements.
The meeting was organized by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and chaired by MM Nambiar, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation. Dr. N. Zaidi, Director General, Civil Aviation, V.P. Aggarwal, Chairman, Airport Authority of India and R.K. Tyagi, CMD, Pawan Hans.
Only governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan have got their Non Scheduled Operators Permit (NSOP). Other states are operating without any air operating permit. The DGCA has found that stringent controls on operations of aircraft/helicopters by State Government and oversight of DGCA is required for safety of passengers which include VIPs and high dignitaries.
The meeting decided to extend the principle of "One level Safety" to extend safety oversight of DGCA on all kinds of operations-Commercial, General, Helicopters and State Governments. The DGCA is to begin with one time Safety Audit to be carried out on all the state government "Aviation Wings", subject state pilots to one time check under DGCA Flight Inspectors, continue enhanced surveillance of general aviation and state government aircraft