Aircraft to monitor pilgrims’ movements

A security helicopter hovers over the Grand Mosque in Makkah as part of the government’s efforts to ensure safe and smooth pilgrimage. Millions of pilgrims are gearing up for annual Haj. Arafat Day will fall on Nov. 5. (SPA)
MAKKAH: Commanders of the Haj security (aviation) held a meeting at the airbase in Makkah on Friday to discuss detailed plans of dealing with emergency situation during the pilgrimage season.
Head of the aviation security Maj. Gen. Muhammad bin Eid Al-Harbi, who chaired the meeting, said the government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was keen to provide all facilities that would enable pilgrims to perform the Haj rituals in ease and comfort.
He said 19 aircraft would be used for the implementation of the Haj security plan. “This is the largest number of aircraft ever used during the Haj season,” he added.
Al-Harbi said new aircraft equipped with the latest aviation technology would be used for the first time during the Haj season.
He recalled the participation of the aircraft during the flood crisis in Jeddah and said they logged record flight hours. “Our pilots have gained enough experience that would enable them to deal with the most difficult of situations,” he added.
Al-Harbi said during last Ramadan the aircraft successfully relayed photographs of the Umrah pilgrims from Makkah to the operations room of the general security in Mina. “This experiment will be repeated during the Haj seasons,” he said.
Al-Harbi said the general security aircraft’s air surveillance over Makkah and the holy sites will be round the clock and they will monitor the movement of pilgrims and ensure smooth flow of traffic.
He said critical cases would be airlifted to hospitals in Makkah that have airfields. “A number of the aircraft have medical equipment including ECG and artificial breathing apparatus. They are also being manned by doctors and nurses who will provide first aid to sick pilgrims until they are transported to hospitals,” he said.

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