The Transport Ministry will soon make it compulsory for foreign helicopter pilots to undergo a special training in the country before they are being allowed to go for their first solo flights, said its Minister Liow Tiong Lai.
He said such a regulation had been approved by the cabinet about two weeks ago and was handed over to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to be gazetted before being enforced.
“I have instructed (DCA) to break down the regulation…It is expected to be gazetted and enforced in about a month’s time,” he told reporters after officiating the Klang Music Festival today.
The final report on the Eurocopter AS350 mishap in Batang Lupar, near Sebuyau, Sarawak in May last year found that it was caused by bad weather and a pilot who was not familiar with the area.
In the report, the ministry had recommended that foreign pilots to undergo a 10-hour special local helicopter flight course before being allowed to fly the aircraft.
Liow added that the regulation was not meant to make it difficult for the foreigners to work here but for safety reason.
“We welcome their presence here but the geographical features and weather here, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, are different. The pilots cannot rely on the global positioning system (GPS) alone, they must be aware of alternative routes should they experience bad weather in the original flight path.
“The pilots must know which area is suitable for landing should there is a need to do so. This regulation is not to make it difficult for them (foreign pilots) but to save lives,” he said.
On May 5, last year, a helicopter crashed in Batang Lupar killing six passengers including the Filipino pilot Captain Rudolf Rex Ragas, Plantation Industries and Commodities deputy Minister Noriah Kasnon and Kuala Kangsar Member of Parliament Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad. –Bernama