The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation has formally instructed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal not to allow any non-permitted helicopter flights above the base camp of all Nepali mountains.
In a written directive sent to CAAN on Thursday, tourism industry division at MoTCA asked the regulatory body to ban rampant use of chopper at the base camp and above on all the mountains. The Ministry’s decision follows the recommendations of CAAN’s probe committee report, which had suggested that chopper flights be banned in the higher camps.
According to Joint Secretary Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, helicopter companies must seek permission from CAAN before making any flights on the mountain regions. “CAAN has also been instructed to allow the flights above the base camp of mountains as per the existing rules and regulations,” he said.
The joint secretary said that CAAN must apply Ministry’s directives on all mountains including Mt Everest. “The Ministry has issued a number of circulars to the CAAN, directing the latter to strictly monitor and regulate the helicopter flights at the high altitude areas in Mt Everest region,” he said, claiming that the ministry’s directives are equally as valid as the acts and regulation.
Burlakoti claimed that CAAN’s recent action against Italian pilot Maurizio Folini was taken in accordance with the circulars issued at ministerial level. Folini was taken off the flight roster after he flew Chinese climber Wang Jing and American mountaineer Cleo Weidlich to the higher camps of Mt Everest in May.
Officials at the CAAN said they would consider the Ministry’s directives to regulate flights in the high altitude areas.