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Editorial

Slow and steady Chopper service

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By EMN Updated: Sep 25, 2013 10:41 pm
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[dropcap]N[/dropcap]agaland Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Thumby Aviation Private Limited for operating the State Helicopter services. This would enhance the mobility of our upwardly mobile population a large number of whom still keep their links with their native places in the remote areas as also easier access to certain consumer items.The services are to begin at the earliest, according to Commissioner and Secretary, Transport. In this connection, Peren, Pfutsero, Mon, Shamator, Noklak etc will be managed by the Civil Administration and Transport department of the State and the connectivity will therefore improve. Small airstrips in addition to helipads are also in the air for some selected places.
It naturally follows that Nagaland Civil Aviation Board will be set up soon to execute the mechanism for managing airlines and helicopter services. Accordingly, a Civil Aviation Academy just might be established in near future through Higher Education and Youth Resources & Sports departments.
The agreement is initially for two years which may be extended later. Nagaland government has assured that it shall fully comply with the Regulatory stipulation standard notified by the Assam Rifles. He said that Dimapur will be the base station and that the service will be of high standard. It was informed that two 13 seater choppers BEL-412, will be provided and one of which will be for regular service and the other for stand by and emergency services.
The BEL 412 helicopter is not new to Nagaland’s airspace. One such model was on a wet lease contract with King Rotors and Air Charter Private Limited for one month from February 2013. This particular chopper was further hired by NPF for campaign purposes for the recent by-polls to the Noksen A/C.
Thumby Aviation is an aviation company dealing with helicopter and fixed wing services for different States and the Government of India. It is a sister concern of King Rotors and Air Charter Private Limited which has been flying around the Naga Hills since the past two years mostly on Government business but sometimes also for private citizens on certain days for certain places in a week.
Over two decades ago, Pawan Hans had started a helicopter service from Kohima to some district HQs but gave up after an unfortunate crash. It seems that chopper crashes do occur all over the country killing at least two Chief Ministers, a Central Minister and also journalists accompanying them.
The Central Government had already laid down Route Dispersal Guidelines with a view to achieve better regulation of air transport services taking into account the need for air transport services of different regions of the country including North-Eastern (NE) States. Operations in domestic sector have been deregulated and flights are being operated by airlines concerned on the basis of commercial viability subject to adherence of Route Dispersal Guidelines, according to the Union Ministry for Civil Aviation.
With this MoU, citizens can now look forward to better air communications in many respects. Remote areas can then also woo ecotourists of whom there is a sizeable number worldwide and perhaps for them the Naga Hills would be among the second or third last unexplored frontiers. With this, eco-economy would surely follow.
Let us pray and hope that this chopper service will not get chopped by human frailties that tend to overflow whenever some new and viable project is launched in our State.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 25, 2013 10:41:55 pm