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SOURCE: Bangalore Mirror

In a span of three days, three naval personnel have died in two separate incidents involving a paramotor and a power glider.

An Indian Navy Captain Madhusudhan Reddy was killed in a tragic accident in Rabindranath Tagore beach, Karwar after the paramotor he was flying developed a technical snag and plunged into the sea on Friday. Likewise on Sunday, Lieutenant Rajeev Jha and Petty Officer Sunil Kumar were killed after their power glider crashed in Kochi.

While a board of inquiry has been ordered into the Kochi incident by the Navy as it involved a glider belonging to the services, there will be no inquiries by the civil aviation regulator, DGCA on the Karwar incident.

In India, paramotoring or powered paragliding is not regulated by the government unlike other air adventure activities like flying powered hang gliders or microlight aircraft which require one to obtain security clearance from the Union Home Ministry and the DGCA, besides licenses to operate them.

“Paramotoring does not come under the ambit of the DGCA and one does not require a licence to fly them in India. Anybody can purchase them and fly them, said veteran hang glider and former National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) Director BR Pai.

Pai added that paramotoring is a relatively safe air adventure activity, however he stressed that regulations would ensure that mishaps are minimised.

“Paramotoring is relatively safe if done with proper equipment, however flying over water is dicey. If the engine fails (as in the case of the Karwar incident) and the flyer falls in the water all strapped up, it is very risky unless he is very well trained. As the flyer is tied inside the harness, he has only split seconds to get away from the harness if something goes wrong. As far as regulations go, it is an evolving process. One by one everything is getting regulated,” Pai added.

Javad Hassan of Albatross Flying Systems Pvt Ltd which is into manufacturing air adventure products including paramotors said that anybody can purchase a paramotor and fly them. “It is for the individual to take up training and take precautions. As of today, all over the world, there are some precautions taken but not in India. Paramotoring is not regulated. The Karwar incident is a civil incident and the DGCA will not conduct an inquiry. At the most a police complaint will be filed,” Hassan said.

Another manufacturer said that since there are no regulations, modifications to the engines could be made and flyers might breach the air space and operate in no-fly zones. He added that there are some cases abroad where two-wheeler engines are used to propel the paramotors.