The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday, April 1, allowed passenger aircraft to be operated as cargo flights for ferrying medical equipment and essential goods to fight the corona pandemic.
The DGCA has allowed the airlines to carry cargo with the passenger cabins and on seats, apart from the aircraft belly. This would enable the airlines to accommodate more freight needed in this lockdown period, cost-efficiently.
DGCA releases circular
The circular would release a large number of aircraft for the cargo operations. Currently, the cargo operations are done through aircraft belonging to Air India, Spicejet, and BlueDart that are specially configured for cargo operations.
To conduct the freight operations, the airlines will have to obtain permission from the DGCA. They must also ensure that the cargo is restrained and will not interfere with an emergency evacuation.
The aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing will allow their airplanes to be used for the purpose, under detailed guidelines to ensure safety.
Indian only passenger flights currently departing Indian airports are the special relief flights to carry stranded foreigners abroad. However, cargo flights have been air connecting cities across India carrying essential goods.
Indian Air Force conducted airlifting of goods
"Operations without passengers and with the cargo in the passenger compartment will require suitable number of crew member/personnel to survey and access all areas o the cabin during all phases of the flight," said the latest DGCA advisory.
The Indian Air Force airlifted nearly 25 tonnes of medical supplies in the last three days from Delhi, Surat, and Chandigarh to Manipur, Nagaland and other such areas. The medical supplies include Personal Protective Equipment, hand sanitisers, gloves, thermal scanners and medical personnel.