Maldives tasks UK experts to review safety ahead of commercial helicopter relaunch

Maldives civil aviation authority has appointed the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) to provide an in-depth review of the authority’s helicopter regulatory oversight capability, ahead of a planned resumption of commercial helicopter flights.

Government announced in December that regulations were being amended to license commercial helicopter operations again, more than 15 years since the island nation ceased using helicopters.

In a statement, the civil aviation authority said last week that the project, led UK CAA flight operations specialists, will include a full helicopter operations risk assessment. The UK CAA experts will support the authority in establishing the intentions of the operations and recommend how these operations can be achieved safely, while conducting an offshore helideck review in order to provide a complete “risk picture” of future helicopter operations, it added.

“This study will play an important role in ensuring that MCAA [the civil aviation authority of Maldives] has a sound regulatory framework in place and the necessary technical capability to oversee commercial rotary flight operations in accordance with international standards,” the statement read.

According to the authority, the project is expected to commence later this month.

Maldives ceased commercial helicopter operations over a decade ago after a series of fatal accidents. Only the armed forces now operate helicopters on special operations such as search and rescue missions, and medical evacuations.

The new helicopter operations could provide a significant boost for the tourism industry and provide transportation links to several new island resorts.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 120 resorts and 300 plus guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.

Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.

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