The ministry of civil aviation issued the draft National Air Sports Policy in the month of january 2022. The policy wants to regulate commerce, tourism, sports, governance with an aim of becoming hub of air sports of the world. The policy aims at atmanirbhar Bharat by creating avenues for this sector in a better directed way through Production Link Incentives (PLI) scheme. The policy draft has envisaged ten games which it strives to promote, some of them are aeromodeling, aerobatics, vintage aircraft, skydiving etc. Though many of these games have been part of adventure sports at different tourist destinations in India, now the difference is that they are set to become more safer and people friendly in the times to comes over the years.
WHY A NEED FOR SUCH POLICY
The air sports avenue is still not fully tapped as per its potential in India despite having a lot of growth prospects in the sector. The policy is a vision and starting point of many achievements that India will achieve after few years from now but the preparation needs to be done today. The policy has taken into consideration the different stakeholders of different nature the sportsperson, manufacturers, production, governance, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector etc.
India is a nation of youths so there is a lot of scope in air sports and thus many medals are awaiting to come to India if right kind of support is given to budding talents. Our sports persons will give boost to India’s sports diplomacy to newer heights. These sports are risky, costly and also require defence permission to be seeked to even practice and operate on commercial basis.
The policy aims and needs to take multi pronged steps:
1. Promoting talented people to take to air sports.
2. Training the people to best standards to compete in international games.
3. Infrastructure needs to be boosted so that equipments required for such sports must be available which impliedly means that air sports product industry must be given incentives (which policy is providing through PLI scheme ).
4. Regulation of air sports is equally important aspects and the nitigrities of which have to be formalised in accordance with Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) which is the world governing body of air sports.
5. To ensure insurance and compensation in this sector is equally important aspect.
6. The games are riskier thus best safety norms need to be implemented.
7. Promoting this sport through education in universities.
CURENT REGULATORY REGIME
As per a written answer given by ministry of civil aviation the following acts govern the aerosports framework currently :
Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued by Directorate General of civil Aviation (DGCA) regulates Microlight Aircraft and Balloon, Gloders/ Motor Glider, Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), Student Pilot’s License and Private Pilot’s License and for regulating other airsports guidelines of World Air Sports Federation. Also Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau investigates any accident under the ambit of this sport through the Aircraft (Investigation of accident and incidents) Rules, 2017.
PROSPECTED REGULATORY REGIME
The draft policy aims to establish an Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) which will be the governing body of the sports and their will be associations for each air sports for handling day to day activities. ASFI will an autonomous body under the ministry and will be responsible for regulation, certification, penalising, etc of the concerned sport. This federation will represent the country at FAI and will undertake international assignments in furthering the goals of the policy.
The policy directs the interested sportsperson to take help of Drone Rules 2021( which is present on the DGCA’S Digital Sky platform) to understand the permitted zones easily whereby they can practice.
While the policy is aiming at the sports but it will have a direct effect on the tourism industry. This sector can provide booster many times if air sports get a governance support. Sooner only see sighting is not going to remain the only incentive for travellers but the action rolling there will be the actual incentive for attracting the travelers not just domestic but internationally. The policy mentions that professionals switch places for practicing air sports as the seasons change across the globe and India aims to become hub in the coming future for professionals of the sport.
Sky is natural habitat of birds. Birds are rightful owners of the sky. When the government is trying to boost air sports infrastructure that means we are going to get the sky occupied by the sports product and more people; and it is bound to make some effect on existing ecosystem. That at no point sustainability must not be divorced from our new developmental goal. We are already seeing adverse climate change and all the efforts must be made to make sure that existing organism must not suffer in our race to conquer the air sports regime.
The policy will be a great boost to the new future of India. India is rich in diverse topography. It is responsibility of the government to tap all the avenues of employment and tourism. The youth should get all the possible help from the government to reach to heights in air sports. The draft is a good step and only the tip of the iceberg because many legal nuances need to completed alongwith brick and mortar requirements. One important point to notice is that though the word sports gives an understanding that the bill must have been brought by the ministry of youth affairs and sports but the requirements of the sport make the civil aviation ministry the most important player. Also it may seem to be very easy to just get started with the sport but one must be aware of the Air traffic control Authority’s rule of the concerned place because most of the sports are operated four hundred feet above the ground level. It is equally important that ministry must include the environment impact assessment because before us its the creatures in the sky who have a right of ownership of air and the sad part is they will not be able to complain to us if they suffer. Air Sports is not a new concept in the country but the focus is new and this needs to taken with zeal by every stakeholder.
This article is written by Poonam Maurya, postgraduate from Amity University.