POKHARA, Jan 25: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has directed to track the paragliding activities in the sky of Pokhara with GPS. According to CAAN, the new decision was taken in view of the increasing instances of accidents after pilots often flew away from the designated area due to lack of any mechanism in place to track their movement in the sky.
The authority recently instructed the Nepal Air-sports Association (NAA), an umbrella organization of paragliding entrepreneurs, to make it mandatory for all paragliders to be equipped with GPS systems in order to make paragliding flight organized and safe.
“Flying in the sky does not mean going beyond the designated area. However, paragliding pilots are flying randomly,” said an official of the CAAN, adding that there are more problems in solo flights than tandem (commercial) flights. He said that the GPS was necessary to track the route the paraglider is using.
“Most pilots don't follow the rules, they fly randomly. It will be easier for us to track them if they connect GPS,” said the official. “Tandem pilots are a little more cautious. But solo pilots have been flying in each other's skies indiscriminately.” No pilots are connected to the GPS system at the moment.
The official claimed that without GPS, they fly in each other's skies causing congestion in the sky. “They use other people's space even when taking off. The situation is similar in the sky. There are crowds flying in each other's skies,” he said, “Now we have to control it. Pilots are required to fly from their designated places.” Sarangkot and Toripani are now designated and more active takeoff areas.
A few months ago, a pilot lost his life in a tandem flight accident in Pokhara following which a separate team of CAAN was deployed to study the flight arrangements here. Based on the recommendations of the same study team, CAAN instructed NAA to implement the provision.
The authority has also directed to stop activities such as touching the lake water, picking flowers, bargaining during the flight and low-flying during commercial flights. It has directed suspension of pilots and take action against companies if they are found violating the rules.