Helitours' plans to relaunch as a scheduled civilian operator have hit a roadblock after the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) confirmed that the airline's Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) is no longer valid and expressed doubts about its operational safety, The Sunday Times has reported.

"The CAASL had doubts about the type of aircraft Helitours is using to transport civilian passengers and expressed these concerns to the company. They were notified that clearance cannot be given for their MA60 aircraft and their Y12E was never on the civilian aircraft register," an unnamed source told the newspaper.

The regulator reportedly suggested to Helitours that it should add other types of aircraft and then apply for an AOC.

The CAASL also pointed out that currently, Helitours is breaching a number of laws by operating scheduled charter flights available for civilian passengers but marketing them as "civil passenger transportation in military aircraft". The carrier is also asking passengers to sign indemnity forms covering themselves and their baggage. Helitours does not have any form of insurance for its operations, either civilian or military, it transpired. As such, passengers are asked to travel fully at their own risk.

Helitours is currently incorporated as a company, technically independent of the state but managed by the Sri Lanka Air Force (Colombo Int'l). In May 2019, the government agreed to take over the airline and formalise its status as a state-owned, military-run airline. Helitours operated scheduled passenger flights until early August 2018.

The carrier's current network of "civil passenger transportation in military aircraft" flights covers services from Colombo Ratmalana to Jaffna via Trincomalee China Bay and to Batticaloa via Gal Oya. The carrier has two MA60s and one Y12E in its fleet, as well as a number of helicopters.