POKHARA, Oct 7: Paragliding companies in Pokhara will not be allowed to operate before 10 am and after 3:30 pm now onwards.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has finally enforced time schedule for paragliding flights. The aviation regulator had introduced similar rule in the past also. But taking advantage of CAAN's laxness, paragliding companies were operating flights from as early as 9 am to 5:30 pm.
The new rule will be applicable for pilots of both solo and tandem flights.
Bhola Prasad Guragain, chief of Civil Aviation Office, Pokhara, said no one is allowed to operate paragliding flights before and after the time schedule specified by the CAAN. He also added that CAAN will strictly enforce a rule on area limitation for paragliding companies.
Though CAAN has designated different take off and landing spaces for paragliding companies, these companies often use others' airspace, causing accidents.
Sarangkot is a popular take off point for paragliding companies.
“As Pokhara-Jomsom flights are operated in the morning, paragliding companies won't be allowed to operate at that time. Also, it takes some time for thermal to rise. So paragliding won't be allowed in the morning time,” Guragain added.
He also added that the new rules have been introduced by the local administration so that they would be implemented effectively. “Now, local administration can take action against pilots and companies who flout the rule,” Guragain said.
Surge in number of paragliding companies in Pokhara have led to congestion in Pokhara sky. Around five dozen paragliding companies are in operation in Pokhara and surrounding areas.
Paragliding operators also say some pilots, especially those flying solo, were flouting rules introduced by CAAN. “As thermal do not get warm before 10 am and starts cooling after 3 am, it won't be appropriate to operate flights before or after the specified time schedule,” a manager of a paragliding company told Republica.
Sobhit Baniya, vice-president of Nepal Air Sport Association (NAA), agreed that some companies were operating flights before 10 am and after 3:30 pm to fly more passengers. “These companies were taking a big risk. Lack of monitoring by CAAN was also encouraging them,” he said, adding that he expects companies to be more responsible now. He fears companies will start flouting this rule as well if CAAN fail to take action against irresponsible companies.