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India drafts first aerosports policy

The civil aviation ministry unveiled a draught National Aerosports Policy (NASP 2022) on Saturday to capitalise on India’s “great” potential for air sports due to its vast geographical extent, diverse topography, and favourable weather. By 2040, the draught strategy, which has been in the works for a year, wants to make India one of the top air sports nations in the world.

Air sports such as air racing, aerobatics, aeromodelling, hang gliding, paragliding, paramotoring, antique aircraft, ballooning, drones, and skydiving are covered by the policy.

The government claims that the multiplier advantages in terms of increase of travel, tourism, infrastructure, and local employment, particularly in hilly sections of the country, outweigh the direct money from air sports activities.

Creating air sports hubs across the country, according to the government, will attract air sports professionals and tourists from all over the world.

“By their very nature, air sports carry a higher level of risk than piloting a standard plane. NASP 2022 lays a heavy emphasis on achieving worldwide safety best practises. “If an air sports association fails to enforce safety standards, the ASFI may take disciplinary action against the association, including financial penalties, suspension, or dismissal,” according to the draught document, which has been made available to the public for comment.

The Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI), which would be established as the top organisation, will be accountable to the air sports organisations, according to the draught issued by the ministry. ASFI will represent India in FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale), headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland) and other international air sports platforms.

It mandates that all individuals and businesses who provide air sports services become members of the appropriate air sports associations. They’ll also have to register their critical air sports equipment with the appropriate air sports association.

The airspace of India is divided into red, yellow, and green zones on an airspace map provided on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) DigitalSky platform, allowing air sports practitioners to rely on this freely accessible map for advice.

Permission from the central government and the relevant Air Traffic Control (ATC) authority is required for operations in red and yellow zones, respectively. No authorization is required for aircraft with an all-up weight of less than 500 kg to operate in green zones.

With permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Defence (MoD), state government, and local ATC authority, locations such as Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh, known as the “paragliding capital,” Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra, and Vagamon in Kerala will be declared as a “control zone” for air sports. “This will allow air sports fans to fly freely in such control zones without jeopardising national security or the safety of other manned aircraft,” the ministry stated.

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