Although trend of paragliding adventures gained momentum in India very late as compared to European countries, the country earned the contract to host Paragliding World Cup 2015. The activity is no more limited to hills and mountains. Even plains are inviting attention of paragliders. So the activity rule book is in making. One of the chapters define Basic Minimum Standards (BMS).
This paragliding season, remember and follow the BMS. So that situations like sudden bans on (adventure) tourist activities at the Rohtang Pass and along Uttarakhand rivers, recently proposed by National Green Tribunals, never arise.
The first step to follow the standards is to know them. Today I will therefore talk about the paragliding standards laid down by the Indian government.
Are Your Guides, Instructors, Operators, Pilots, and / or Tandem Pilots Qualified to Organize Paragliding Trips?
The pilots certified by well-reputed international and national aero sports organizations can only organize paragliding trips. Because paragliding gives pleasure only to well-trained thrill seekers. Take a paragliding holiday with a qualified professional for your own safety.
They should have successfully completed at least basic first aid course conducted by a recognized institute.
They should be experienced knowledgeable current pilots.
Each pilot should at least have an experience of flying for 200 days.
The minimum logged airtime to qualify as a pilot is 200 hours.
What is Logged Airtime?
Time spent in the air is called airtime. More precisely in technical terms, airtime is the time from the moment a pilot leaves the ground to the moment s/he lands at the ground again. This time recorded in the logbook is called logged airtime. In case of trainee paragliders, these logbooks are certified by the instructors and examiners.
The standards not only require to maintain pilot’s logbooks but also require updated equipment logbooks.
Who is the Boss of Air Based Adventures in India?
Aero Club of India (ACI) is the apex body governing air based adventures in India.
How to Identify Safe Paragliding Wings
The reliability of a paragliding wing can be judged by a certification stitched on it. How do wings get these certifications? Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) recognized testers offer these airworthiness certifications. For example,
- Association Française de Normalisation / Association French Normalization Organization Regulation (AFNOR -Earlier known as APCUL)
- German Deutscher Hängegleiterverband e.V.(DHV) that follows its Gütesiegel Standards for the testing
- European Committee for Standardization created CEN-norm, a stringent paraglider test.
The certification shall be visible for inspection.
So look for AFNOR, CEN, or DHV certification before using a paragliding wing.
The harness shall have a back protection and certified round rescue parachute.
Certification is Not One Time Exercise
A qualified inspector shall inspect air worthiness of the wings every year.
Paragliding equipment manufacturer shall publish maintenance and user manuals and distribute these to users.
Oh No Helmets!
You are familiar with helmets but many of you do not like them. You consider them as a burden. But remember helmets are compulsory for “driving” in the sky.
What Are Safe Take-Off and Landing Points?
The safe take-off and landing sites shall meet the following criteria:
- Open areas in hills
- Obstruction free take-off paths
- No take-off points on cliffs
- Both take-off and landing points shall be free of buildings, crops, electric wires, rocks, tall trees, etc. that can injure the paragliders.
- These points shall have first aid facilities and emergency transport services to transfer injured to the hospital.
- Operators must monitor wind conditions at these points and fly only if the conditions match those mentioned in the equipment manual.
- Operators shall assess risks every month and maintain the record.
What Does Rule Book Say About Solo Flights?
A solo pilot must have attended 2-day-long ground training session focusing on both practice and theory.
Height for the first fifteen (15) launches is limited to 500 feet.
The instructors shall guide student pilots over a radio.
When the student pilots master 5-spot landing, 180 degree turns, and theory, they can fly solo.
The students shall register with an ACI recognized club.
Who Is Eligible for Tandem Pilot License?
A tandem pilot can get the license if s/he meets the following criteria:
- Clears theory exam
- Gains more than 35 hours logged time
- Have experience of 150 logged flights
A good beginning. But the standards neither define any measures for conservation of environment nor take into account concerns of people living in the paragliding sites.