Text & Pictures by Dipalay
“Heliport” is a rear word since we have always been habituated to hear “helipad”. India always lacked a dedicated field for helicopter operations and rotary wing operations have always been neglected. But the past few years have seen drastic changes to the landscape for helicopter operations.
Although we had Doon Helidrome in Dehradun which is operated by Airports Authority of India and see various VIP / civilian chopper movement but a particular helicopter operations port was missing in the country, Doon Helidrome does not have major maintenance facilities and also is not capable of operating bigger helicopters. Now with the completion of the Rohini Heliport constructed in Rohini area of New Delhi the Helicopter operation is ready to see a new boost for the Indian Aviation.
The Heliport was proposed to reduce the traffic congestion in the capital’s main and only airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport. As of now both the civilian helicopter and aircraft traffic depends on the lone airport and also with regular military use the airspace of IGI Airport has become congested and in the upcoming years that will be a threat for aircraft operations and will result in severe congestion. To tackle this future condition the concern authorities in the Ministry suggested building a dedicated Heliport and hence Pawan Hans was chosen as the rightful arm to construct the project.
The initial talks begin in 2011 for its construction and in 2017 Pawan Hans announced successful completion of the dream Heliport project in the National Capital. Pawan Hans is the owner of the heliport. The Heliport is a complete set of arrangements which includes a Terminal building along with car parking space, Maintenance hangars, dedicated helicopter apron, an Air Traffic Control tower, Fire and Safety department and airline office spaces. The Heliport is equipped with a modern state-of-art terminal building which includes four check-in counters, one security area, one open gallery area, one baggage claim conveyor belt in the arrival lounge and one common restaurant to charter both the departure and arrival halls. The terminal building is also equipped with a dedicated business lounge, airline office and ticketing counter spaces and baggage screening section. It has been built to charter around 150 passengers at a time, sufficient for helicopter operations.
Although the terminal lacked some basic facilities like Kids care section and Smoking room, the authorities say that it won’t take much time to have these facilities once the heliport is fully operational. The parking bay is capable to handle 16 Helicopters at a time including two dedicated parking bays for bigger Helicopters like the Mil Mi-172.
Pawan Hans inaugurated the heliport in 2017 with a great pride and had even operated joy rides from their Head Office base in Safdurjang and Rohini. The joyrides lasted for just few days. Although the heliport was opened two years back it is still waiting to see the light of the day for passenger movement. As of now it is strictly restricted to only MRO use for which Pawan Hans has constructed world class hangar facility which charter both the loads of Pawan Hans and the other private helicopters of various other operators in the national capital. As per few sources during the conversation I came to know that many operators still prefer to operate their services from the international airport and cited the distance and communications of the heliport location as one of the reason for its negligence. But apart from all the odds the authorities are fully confident that the heliport will soon see passenger traffic as both Ministry and Pawan Hans are determined to make the Heliport functional as soon as possible.