Visakhapatnam: The much-delayed heli-tourism project in Vizag city has moved a step forward after several hiccups, as Pawan Hans Ltd. successfully conducted its trial run in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. A red-coloured helicopter landed at the helipad located in VUDA Park on the beach road at about 4 pm and after a 20-minute sortie landed and flew back. Sources said that representatives from Pawan Hans and INS Dega of Eastern Naval Command (ENC) monitored the trail run. The pilots will submit a report to the Naval Authorities for commencing the tourist flights. Talking to the media Chief Urban Planner of Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority V. Bhavanishankar said Pawan Hans will get permission from DGCA and Indian Navy in two weeks. If all goes as planned the project will commence in December, the peak tourist season every year, he said.
The trial was planned between October 16 and 19 but got cancelled due to inclement weather. Pawan Hans is a helicopter service company based out of New Delhi and is a Mini Ratna-I category PSU. It has cumulatively flown more than one million hours and has had 2.5 million landings on its fleet since inception. Earlier, the VUDA had signed an agreement with Sky Choppers of Hyderabad but the company withdrew from the project due to various reasons. Presently one helicopter will be used and basing on the response another would be added.
Each helicopter can accommodate six passengers and one pilot. But two pilots and five passengers were taken for the trial run. A senior officer with VUDA said that the joy rides will be limited to the Vizag city (VUDA Park to Bheemili) and base on the demand, the service will be extended to Araku Valley covering the entire agency area. VUDA also managed to agree with Pawan Hans to operate the helicopter at Rs 2500 for a 10-minute city ride from VUDA Park to Bheemili.
Source : Deccan chronicle