A majority of the helipads at the oil rigs of Bombay High, off the coast of Mumbai, are not built as per the specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and civil aviation regulatory, Directorate general of Civil Aviation (DGCA), claim chopper pilots operating in the area. Since these specifications are not implemented, pilots have to face turbulence during operations.
Many of the helipads at Bombay High, where Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) run their operations, are more than 25 years old. Hence, choppers are forced to fly with a low load or risk a flight hazard. “There are more than 70 platforms (helipads) in Bombay High from where chopper operations takes place. Most of the helipads are not built as per the specifications of the aviation monitoring agencies and make our job riskier. We have to face a lot of turbulence during operations due to this,” said a chopper pilot, on condition of anonymity.
“We cannot raise the issue directly with the aviation regulatory DGCA since we work on a contractual basis and risk being fired by our agencies. We have unofficially informed the regional office of aviation regulatory on many occasions. But the situation remains unchanged. We request the aviation regulatory to conduct a safety audit of all these platforms to minimise the risk during operations,” said another pilot. DGCA chief EK Bharatbhushan said, “We have already taken many steps to improve things. We will undertake a detailed audit soon.”
About 20 helicopters from the fleet of two leading helicopter service providers conduct more than 50 offshore take offs every day.