POKHARA, March 19: Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has authorized Nepal Airsports Association (NAA) to regulate and supervise paragliding flights in Pokhara.
The decision has come in the wake of different anomalies in paragliding industry of the lake city in the absence of proper monitoring and supervision of paragliding companies.
CAAN had been monitoring this adventure sports since its beginning about two decades ago. However, its monitoring had become ineffective in the latter years due to exponential growth in the number of paragliding companies in recent years. NAA – the umbrella body of paragliding companies – had also been failing to regulate its member companies as monitoring was not in its jurisdiction.
Debendra Paudel, manager of Flight Safety Standard Department of (CAAN), told Republica that NAA, under supervision of CAAN, will monitor paragliding companies now onwards. “If paragliding companies are found flouting safety standards and other rules, NAA will recommend us for needful action,” added Paudel.
CAAN took the decision to this extent on Sunday.
According to Paudel, NAA has been authorized to monitor paragliding flights, give flight approval, recommend licensing of pilots, and look after slot management, among others.
“NAA will act as a mediator between CAAN and paragliding companies. Its prime objective will be to manage paragliding flights,” Paudel told Republica.
Many anomalies had crept in the paragliding industry of Pokhara in the lack of strict monitoring and supervision of paragliding companies in the recent years. Such was the highhandedness of paragliding companies that they did not feel it necessary to seek approval from CAAN while organizing an international paragliding competition some months before.
Bhola Prasad Guragain, chief of Civil Aviation Office, Pokhara, said NAA will monitor paragliding flights on behalf of CAAN now onwards. “It is not that we have given all authority to NAA. The association will be under our regular supervision,” he said, adding: “Our main aim is to control anomalies in paragliding industry of Pokhara.”
Nearly five dozen companies operate paragliding flights in Pokhara and surrounding areas. Though paragliding has expanded rapidly over the past years, the sector was plagued by different anomalies. Many foreign pilots are operating paragliding flights in Pokhara, taking advantage of laxity of regulating agencies.
Tourism ministry had taken a minister-level decision September 12 last year to form a separate body to monitor paragliding flights. A month later, CAAN had issued a public notice, requesting interested organization to apply for supervision and monitoring of paragliding lights.
Responding to the notice, NAA and Recreation Association of Nepal (RAN) had submitted application to the CAAN. After studying applications of the two organizations, CAAN had selected NAA for the job.