Love the bucket line at the bottom, I wonder who they are leasing the balloons from.
NEW DELHI: Floating over the sand dunes of Thar desert or the blue-white beaches of Goa on a hot air balloon may be just a fantasy now, but the dream is all set to turn into a reality. The government has initiated steps to commercialise ‘ballooning aviation’ to herald a new era in adventure tourism — balloon safari. The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) would soon notify guidelines for ‘balloon aircraft’ and incorporate them in the civil aviation requirements (CAR) which guides the entire civil aviation industry in India.
The ministry of civil aviation recently granted no-objection certificate to the Delhi-based E-factor to start commercial ‘balloon safari’ operations in Rajasthan. DGCA is likely to give non-schedule operator permit (NSOP) to the company by the end of this year.
This permission is usually awarded for chartered airline operations. “We have created a separate category in CAR to encourage ballooning and airships in the country. The move is aimed at promoting several forms of aviation in the country.
This would help turn various hill stations in the country into tourist spots,” an official in the ministry of civil aviation said. A company planning to start ballooning is required to have a start-up capital of Rs 25 lakh.
A hot air balloon is also considered an aircraft which travels by moving with the wind. On the other hand, an airship is a buoyant aircraft which is propelled through the air in a controlled manner. E-factor has leased two balloons to begin operation from early next year. “Once we succeed in making this adventure popular in few states,we would multiply the number of balloons in the next few years,” E-factor chairman Harish Garg said. “We propose to charge $350 per hour per passenger,” he added.
Hot air balloons are the most common balloon aircraft across the world. The balloon gets airborne as the air inside it is heated, making it lighter than atmospheric air.
Depending upon the size, price of a hot air balloon varies from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 3 crore. The ideal weather for these flying machines is winter when outside temperature is low and air-pockets are rare.
While a small balloon can take off with two passengers in its bucket, a bigger balloon may fly with 25 passengers.