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DGCA cautions pilots about hydrogen balloons in Hyderabad

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HYDERABAD: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), New Delhi has cautioned pilots about hydrogen-filled balloons that are launched from the Balloon Facility at Hyderabad. DGCA B S Bhullar said that purpose of the circular that was issued was to disseminate information regarding balloon operations in India. “A pilot in command should use this information for the safety of aircraft,” he cautioned.

It was explained that large hydrogen-filled balloons of various sizes are launched periodically, normally from October through May, from Hyderabad. It was pointed out that the balloons are unmanned and carry scientific equipment which records data from the upper atmosphere. The ascent is made to altitudes between 25 km and 52 km with flight durations from three to 12 hours. “Separations between an aircraft and a balloon, whether operating inside or outside controlled airspace is the responsibility of the pilot in command,” the DGCA said. The onus is on the pilot because he is in a position to use his aircraft radio and radar navigation equipment and visual observation to any possible conflict. Balloon operations are confined to visual meteorological conditions and flight information service is provided to assist pilots in the safe conduct of flight.

The DGCA said separation between an aircraft and the balloon was the pilot’s responsibility ‘whether operating inside or outside controlled airspace’. According to sources in the Tata Institute of Fundamental Sciences (TIFR) Balloon Facility in Hyderabad, information about the launching of balloons is provided to the chief secretary of the state in advance. The launches for this season have not been finalized as yet because of the rains.

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