Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Rs 2 lakh drone cam checked in at KIA damaged, airline blamed

Bengaluru: A Mumbai-based professional photographer’s drone camera worth Rs 2 lakh, which was checked in at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on the airline’s insistence and marked ‘fragile’ was allegedly damaged and rendered unusable.

The passenger blamed the airline for careless handling of his expensive equipment and lack of uniform security rules to carry drones as it had been allowed as cabin luggage from Mumbai to Bengaluru.

Sabit Tisekar, 30, a filmmaker who travels across India on photography and film assignments, claimed he often carries his work equipment — DJI Mavic drone fitted with a hi-end camera — in his hand luggage on flights within the country. Last week, he came to Bengaluru for an assignment and his production manager flew down from Mumbai on November 9 with the drone camera.

“He took the Air India flight and before boarding, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel at Mumbai airport took a written undertaking at the security checks with regard to the drone and it was allowed in the hand luggage,” Tisekar said.

On Sunday, the photographer was leaving after his work on Air Asia flight I5 1561 from Bengaluru to Mumbai. He reached the KIA by afternoon. “I was carrying the drone in my hand luggage but I was told to check in the device saying drones were not allowed onboard. Since the officers stood their ground and I didn’t want to miss the flight, I ran downstairs to the Air Asia counter and the ground staff advised me to check in the drone. They promised that they will personally look into it. They pasted a ‘fragile’ sticker on my bag carrying the device and also made me sign on it,” he said. However, Tisekar was in for a rude shock when he collected the bag after landing in Mumbai.

“The lens was damaged which had happened during the baggage handling by the ground staff. I raised a formal complaint with the Air Asia personnel at Mumbai airport. But they asked why I didn’t carry the drone in hand on flight,” fumed Tisekar who lodged a complaint with Air Asia’s nodal officer. The photographer was also agitated over lack of a non-uniform rule in carrying drones at two different airports. “The CISF security officer in Mumbai said it’s OK to carry a drone in hand but his colleague from Bengaluru said otherwise. It is ridiculous,” he lamented.

Sources with the CISF in KIA said as per the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security guidelines of 2020 that are applicable to all airports in the country, devices like drones must be carried only in the check-in luggage and the batteries need to taken in hand luggage. Also, during inspection by security personnel at the airport, the passenger must explain as to why he/she is carrying such batteries.

16/11/21 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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