The civil aviation ministry on Saturday released a draft National Aerosports Policy (NASP 2022) to leverage India’s ‘huge’ potential for air sports given its large geographical expanse, diverse topography and fair weather conditions, Trend reports citing The Hindustan Times.
The draft policy, which has been on the drawing board for a year, aims to make India one of the top air sports nations by 2030.
The policy covers air sports activities such as air-racing, aerobatics, aeromodelling, hang gliding, paragliding, paramotoring, vintage aircraft, ballooning, drones and skydiving.
The government said that other than the direct revenue from air sports activities, the multiplier benefits in terms of growth of travel, tourism, infrastructure and local employment, especially in hilly areas of the country, are much greater.
According to the government, creating air sports hubs across the country will bring in air sports professionals and tourists from across the world.
“Air sports by their very nature involve a higher level of risk than flying a regular aircraft. NASP 2022 places strong focus on ensuring international best practices in safety. Inability to enforce safety standards by an air sports association may lead to penal action by the ASFI against such association including financial penalties, suspension or dismissal,” said the draft document which has been placed in the public domain to seek feedback.
The draft released by the ministry said that the air sports associations will be accountable to Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI), which it will establish as the apex body. ASFI will represent India at FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland is the world governing body for air sports) and other global platforms related to air sports.
It requires all people and entities providing air sports services to register as members of the respective air sports associations. They will also have to register the key equipment used for air sports with the respective air sports association.
An airspace map of India published on aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) DigitalSky platform, segregates the airspace of India into red, yellow and green zones, which will allow air sports practitioners to rely on this easily accessible map for guidance.
Operation in red and yellow zones requires permission from the central government and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) authority concerned, respectively. Operation in green zones for aircraft with all-up weight up to 500 kg does not require any permission.
Locations such as Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh, which is often known as the ‘paragliding capital’, Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra or Vagamon in Kerala will be declared as a ‘control zone’ for air sports with permissions from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Defence (MoD), state government and the local ATC authority. “This will enable hassle-free flying by air sports enthusiasts in such control zones without creating any risk to national security or safety of other manned aircraft,” the government said.
The draft said, “During peak winters, the level of air sports reduces in Europe and North America and the air sports aficionados migrate to milder climates. ASFI and the air sports associations will work towards developing a hassle-free process to enable their movement to India. This will enable Indian air sports enthusiasts to learn from the experience of the visiting professionals, get exposed to global best practices and create opportunities to host global competitions in India.”
The government also stated that it will consider allowing the import of air sports equipment without any import duty for a particular number of years. Schools, colleges and universities will also be encouraged to have air sports included in their curriculum. According to the draft, in order to make air sports affordable to common people, the government will request the GST Council to consider rationalizing the GST rate on air sports equipment to 5% or less.