India warms up to air sports; Jyotiraditya Scindia announces new policy
Indian skies will soon open up to a variety of air sports including para-gliding, sky-diving, ballooning, parachuting, hand gliding and high end ones like rotor-crafting. The segment has the potential to generate annual revenue of ₹8,000–10,000 crore with a direct employment generating capacity of 1,00,000.
Areas like Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh, is known as the country paragliding capital and attracts adventure tourists; while Gangtok in Sikkim is another popular destination for air sports.
Unveiling the National Air Sports Policy, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said, the economic multiplier benefits of the policy in terms of travel, tourism, support services and local infrastructure development will be over three times.
According to him, the policy will help develop air-sports in the country making it attractive especially to those who live in areas where harsh winters prevent them from participating. Air sports enthusiasts from Europe, North America, and Australia would flock to India to practice in the winters.
In 2017, the Outdoor Industry Association reported that nearly 48.8 per cent of US citizens participate in outdoor sports once a year. People are adopting this air sports activity to maintain mental and physical health, it was said.
Moreover, parachuting has become safer with advanced equipment and offers better training techniques. In 2018, according to United States Parachute Association (USPA), out of 1,000 jumps, the fatality rate was 0.0039.
According to a research report, “Air Sports Equipment Market by Product, Application and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025”, the market (air sports equipment) witnessed a y-o-y growth of 4.12 per cent in 2021; at a CAGR of 6.39 per cent.
The GST rates here on purchase of air sports equipment is between 18 and 28 per cent.
The policy, as of now, will cover aerobatics; aero modeling and model rocketry; amateur-built and experimental aircraft; ballooning; drones; gliding and powered gliding; hang gliding and powered hang gliding; parachuting (including skydiving, BASE jumping and wing suits); paragliding and para motoring (including powered parachute trikes); powered aircraft (including ultra light, micro light and light sports aircraft) and rotorcraft (including autogyro).
This list is subject to periodic review.
Long term funding is expected from corporates, investors, media rights, membership fees and so on, it was said in the draft policy paper too.
India will have a four-tier governance structure – which include Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) as the apex governing body; a set of national associations for individual air sports or a set of air sports, as appropriate; regional or State and Union Territory level units of the national air sports associations; and district-level air sports associations.
“India has a huge geographical expanse, extending from the Himalayas and the mountainous regions to our states in the north east; to the plains in central India to the coastal regions on the western-eastern coastline, and therefore you have the ability in this country to have the widest diversity of air sports,” Scindia said on Tuesday.
Currently, Indian airspace is divided into red, yellow and green zones, according to the DigitalSky platform of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Operations in red zones require a permission from the central government; in yellow zones, one needs approval by air traffic control authorities; and for green zones, aircraft with weight of up to 500 kilograms do not require any permission.
June 07, 2022