Modi Sarkar Read­ies to Fly Back Piece of His­tory to In­dia

Af­ter be­ing stalled by UPA dif­fi­dence, IAF to soon add to vin­tage fleet Dou­glas DC3 ‘Dakota’ re­stored by busi­ness­man Ra­jeev Chan­drasekhar

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

sekhar, whose fa­ther was a Dakota pi­lot in IAF, and has been metic­u­lously re­stored by him in the UK. It now wears the old IAF colours. The Dakota has played a key role in In­dia’s mil­i­tary his­tory, fer­ry­ing the troops that helped to push back Pak­istani in­vaders in Kash­mir just af­ter In­de­pen­dence in 1947. That means the ar­rival of the plane will be nicely timed for the 70th an­niver­sary of In­de­pen­dence next year. IAF’s vin­tage fleet in­cludes a de Hav­il­land Tiger Moth and an HT-291.

Chan­drasekhar said the restora- tion work be­gan in 2010 but he couldn’t in­ter­est the UPA govern­ment in tak­ing the plane.

“They said that there are no rules to take it as a gift. I was do­ing what I thought was some­thing good. The Dakota in a lot of ways is sym­bolic of our In­de­pen­dence,” Chan­drasekhar said.

But he re­ceived a bet­ter re­sponse af­ter writ­ing to De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar with the same of­fer. “This time I don’t think I needed to con­vince any­one. Any­one with a sense of his­tory and com­mit­ment to the armed forces would see it. The mo­ment I wrote a let­ter to Par­rikar, he was very pos­i­tive on it,” he said.

UPA regime re­fused to ac­cept the air­craft say­ing there were no rules to take it as a gift

Flohr said the reg­u­la­tor can speed up things by hir­ing a few more peo­ple be­cause such de­lays hurt In­dia’s im­age when it’s aim­ing to draw over­seas in­vest­ment.

“Avi­a­tion is a 24/7 busi­ness. How can the reg­u­la­tor not work on week­ends?” Flohr said. “The In­dian govern­ment is try­ing to im­prove its rank­ing in ease of do­ing busi­ness in In­dia. The govern­ment can im­prove it fur­ther by hir­ing five to 10 peo­ple who can work on week­ends.”

The so­lu­tion may not be that sim­ple though. DGCA didn’t re­spond to queries but an of­fi­cial who didn’t want to be named said such per­mis­sion wasn’t just up to the reg­u­la­tor. Apart from emer­gen­cies, such ap­pli­ca­tions need to be cleared by the home min­istry and other govern­ment de­part­ments.

In­dian busi­ness jet op­er­a­tors echo the con­cerns raised by Flohr. In­ter­na­tional flight plans filed by them also get stuck be­cause of week­ends and hol­i­days.

“Ev­ery In­dian busi­ness air­craft fly­ing in­ter­na­tional has to take ap­provals from the DGCA. Th­ese ap­provals are de­layed, as the DGCA does not work on week­ends,” said RK Bali, sec­re­tary at the Busi­ness Air­craft Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents 130 busi­ness air­craft op­er­a­tors reg­is­tered in the country.

To be sure, DGCA of­fi­cials try to be as ac­com­moda­tive as they can. A busi­ness air­craft op­er­a­tor said that flight plans have at times been sent for ap­proval to their homes.

“They take pride in say­ing that they are help­ful and sign on ap­provals even when they are off on week­ends. But this prob­lem can be sorted com­pletely by hir­ing peo­ple to work on week­ends, which they won't,” said the per­son, who didn’t want to be named.

In the US, once an op­er­a­tor has been ap­proved by the avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties, it doesn’t have to seek per­mis­sion ev­ery time one of its planes uses the country’s airspace.

“Why can­not In­dia copy sys­tems preva­lent in the US? I do not need a per­mit to fly to the US be­cause we are ap­proved by them,” said Flohr, whose com­pany has a fleet of 61 air­craft, five of them ded­i­cated to the In­dian mar­ket.

The sit­u­a­tion in China was sim­i­lar to In­dia un­til five years ago, but that country has now fixed the prob­lem, he said. “Some­what it’s the same for In­dia. Once th­ese norms are re­laxed, it will im­mensely ben­e­fit the country.” Bali also said that the sit­u­a­tion is not in sync with the re­quire­ments of avi­a­tion.

FLY­ING HIGH: The DC3 was ac­quired as scrap in Ire­land by Chan­drasekhar

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.