City gets ready for Heli-Tourism
City gets ready for Heli-Tourism. The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) is planning to revive its heli-tourism project, which will offer a bird\'s eye view of historical sites in the city and elsewhere in the region.
The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) is planning to revive its heli-tourism project, which will offer a bird's eye view of historical sites in the city and elsewhere in the region. The APTDC plans to introduce helicopter rides for tourists, in association with a few private firms. It had sought to introduce this facility a couple of years ago but the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had not cleared the proposal, earlier.
On tourism day (September 27, 2011) the then minister for tourism, Vatti Vasanth Kumar, had inaugurated the helicopter city tour of Hyderabad city. He felt, “Tourists can have a spectacular aerial view of landmarks in the city like Birla Mandir, Golconda Fort, Charminar, Hussain Sagar, Hitech City on a 15-minute-Helicopter ride.”
The chopper, a BEL-47, provided by Deccan Aviations Pvt Ltd, was slated to take off every half-an-hour from Lower Tank Bund and would carry up to six passengers. The price for the chopper ride was fixed at Rs 2,950 per person. Described as a small Mercedez Benz with all sorts of comforts, the BEL-47 chopper was one of the most advanced passenger helicopters in the world.
However, the project failed to take off. Deccan Aviation Private Limited was to take permission and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the DGCA. The permission and the NOC from the DGCA were believed to be the reason for the unprecedented delay. Under the agreement with Deccan Aviation, the APTDC was to construct a helipad near Snow World, operate a booking counter and obtain clearance from the Fire Department. All these things were completed even before the launch. These have been biting the dust for quite a while.
At the recently held India Aviation-2014 conclave, the APTDC officials took up the issue with the Civil Aviation Ministry authorities, who sought a concrete proposal. "We had a preliminary round of meeting with the ministry officials. We discussed issues like coordination between different stakeholders for the project. We are now identifying the prospective circuits for heli-tourism," said a senior official of the APTDC.
Civil Aviation joint secretary G Asok Kumar, who belongs to the AP cadre of IAS, assured the APTDC that he would coordinate with the DGCA for requisite clearances and licences and also asked the corporation authorities to convene a meeting with private helicopter operators to work out modalities.
"Many private operators are interested. We will discuss our plans with them next week. Warangal is a heritage city to which we can organise helicopter rides. There are other places like Vikarabad and Bhadrachalam that could also be developed as heli-tourism spots," the official said.
A helipad is being built on the APTDC's premises near Tank Bund for operation of short-distance services and city tour. "We want to kick-start the project soon after the elections," the official said.