To meet the exigencies on highways, the civil aviation ministry has suggested to the surface transport ministry to earmark space for helipads every 100 kilometres on major national highways and ensure that transmission lines do not hinder landing of choppers in such areas.
"Preliminary talks have been held with the National Highways Authority of India to earmark areas on the major highways. The Power Grid Corporation has also been asked to ensure that heavy-load wires are placed such that helicopter landing is not hindered," Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited chairman and managing director Nagar V Sridhar said.
On the fleet acquisition plans of the public sector helicopter company, he said that while one Dauphin As 365N3 was added to the fleet last month, another would be delivered by Eurocopter next month.
Besides this, the PHHL was acquiring an additional light helicopter Bell-407 which is likely to be delivered by December this year.
With these acquisitions, the total fleet strength of PHHL would rise to 33 by this year-end.
On the fiscal results of PHHL, the CMD said the company has posted a total revenue of Rs 224 crore (Rs 2.24 billion) and a net profit of about Rs 53 crore (Rs 530 million), of which about 12 per cent would be paid to the government as dividend.
He said the chopper firm has been recording net profits consecutively for the past few years -- Rs 15.4 crore (Rs 154 million) in 2002-03, Rs 59.31 crore (Rs 593.1 million) in 2001-02 and Rs 38.01 crore (380.1 million) in 2000-01.
Regarding expansion of its services, Sridhar said it has decided to resume chopper flights to the holy shrine of Kedranath in Uttaranchal from Friday and has sought clearance from the Army for launching operations to Govinddham near Valley of Flowers.
It would also carry out heli-skiing operations at Auli between December and February, especially for foreign tourists and has sought permission from authorities like DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security for services to Gauchar near Rudraprayag and Badrinath Dham among other places.
The PHHL has also carried out surveys for flights from Delhi to Rajasthan and Mumbai and Nashik to Shirdi, but found that the cost of operations would be five to six times higher than the fixed wing (aircraft) operations, Sridhar said.
The firm is continuing its services in the northeast, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands, besides its operations for the public sector oil companies like ONGC at Bombay High, off-Chennai and the northeastern states.