All foreign-owned helicopters hired by local companies should adhere to Aviation Regulations 2016 under the Civil Aviation Act 1969, said Civil Aviation Department (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
He said there were several new regulations effective April 15 requiring the compliance of airline companies for using aircraft owned by foreign companies apart from hiring qualified foreign pilots.
"Similarly, local companies which hire helicopters and pilots from other countries should also abide by the conditions and guidelines set by DCA.
"During the Sarawak state election, there were applications for short-term rental of helicopters in which the flight company was also directed to adhere to our guidelines," he said when contacted by Bernama in Kuala Lumpur.
Azharuddin said all local flight companies which provide helicopter service knew about the regulations they had to comply with before hiring any helicopters or pilots.
Commenting on helicopter flight operations in the country especially in Sarawak, Azharuddin said DCA monitored all aircraft departures and landings.
He said all departing aircraft were required to contact the nearest Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) and similarly on landing, pilots would report to the nearest control tower on their latest position.
"Nonetheless, there are situations called 'blind spots' in which contact could not be made due to geographical factors and in these situations, pilots are unable to communicate with the control tower," he said.
According to him, only aircraft which were allowed to depart by the nearest ATCO could take off to their destinations and if there were any change in flight route, it should also be reported to control tower.
On May 5, a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter managed by a local helicopter company was carrying five passengers and the pilot when it crashed near Sebuyau at 4.12 pm, moments after taking off from Betong to Kuching.
The victims killed in the crash were Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Noriah Kasnon and her husband Asmuni Abdullah, Noriah's bodyguard Ahmad Sobri Harun, Kuala Kangsar MP Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad, Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry secretary-general Sundaran Annamalai and Filipino pilot, Captain Rudolf Rex Ragas.
Helicopter used popular with civilians
In this regard, Airod senior maintenance manager (Rotary Wing) Ahmad Firdaus Azmi said the Eurocopter AS350 craft which crashed in Sarawak last week was popular with civilians and was used all over the world.
He said from the design and engine capacity, the helicopter was suitable for any geological and weather conditions in the country.
"The aircraft (Eurocopter AS350) for me is widely used in this country and it is not alien to local helicopter maintenance engineers," he told Bernama.
He said there were many factors which caused a certain helicopter to crash including mechanical, weather and human error factors.
On April 15 2015, a Eurocopter AS365N3 (9M-IGB) helicopter crashed near Kampung Sungai Pening Pening, Semenyih, Selangor.
The tragedy took the lives of Rompin MP Jamaluddin Jarjis as well as the Prime Minister's principal private secretary Azlin Alias, pilot Captain Clifford William Fournier, operations assistant Aidana Baizieva, bodyguard Razakan Seran and businessman Tan Huat Seang.
Meanwhile, in the helicopter incident in Sarawak on July 20 2012, a Eurocopter EC 120 belonging to a private company based in Sarawak which was not registered in Malaysia crashed at the mouth of Sungai Lingga in Sri Aman due to bad weather.
In the incident, engineer Peter Ato Mayo, 53, architect Henry Loh, 42 and surveyor Siti Khuzaimah Anuar, 27 were killed while the pilot, Rico Steiger, 35, a German, survived.
On April 11, 2011, a Bell 206 helicopter belonging to Sabah Air crashed moments after taking off from Dataran Sibu in which Captain Sahimi Ghazali, 38, was killed.