Haryana govt to get new aircraft for Khattar, Solanki soon
US-based Textron Aviation, the manufacturer of Beechcraft, is being called for price negotiation after a go-ahead was given by the technical committee set up to select the machine.chandigarh Updated: Sep 26, 2017 15:32 IST
The Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana, which got going with a display of austerity in 2014, will finally have its own fixed wing aircraft — a Beechcraft King Air 250 — soon.
Top officials said US-based Textron Aviation, the manufacturer of Beechcraft, is being called for price negotiation after a go-ahead was given by the technical committee set up to select the machine.
The state government has a twin-engine helicopter, purchased during Congress rule at a cost of EUR 5.5 millon (Rs 33 crore in 2009).
A Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft, also purchased during the Congress rule, had crashed in 2014 at Chandigarh airport soon after taking off. The then-governor, Jaganath Pahadia, his wife and officials, who were on board, had a miraculous escape.
Austerity Gone For Six
First time BJP chief minister, Khattar had tried to set an example in austerity early on his tenure by travelling in trains, commercial flights, luxury buses and metro rail, providing plenty of photo-ops. However, the pretence veered off soon. And despite having a chopper at his disposal, Khattar started taking chartered flights for his visits to Delhi, sparking criticism on millions being shelled out to private aviation companies. Similar chartered planes were also hired for governor Kaptan Singh Solanki.
Gradually, it dawned upon the political and bureaucratic brass that the state government needed another flying machine to cater to the needs of the VVIPs including the chief minister.
“It would be better to invest in a state aircraft than depend on private operators. The state government had been paying millions for chartered operations. Also many a times, a chartered plane is not available when the government requires it. Often, the government has to pay a higher cost, Many a times, even the state chopper is not available due to maintenance and repairs,’’ said an official justifying the purchase.
The Chosen Machine
A civil aviation official said that Beechcraft King Air 250, which is an upgraded version of King Air 200, was chosen as it was an ideal machine considering the length of runways at Chandigarh, Delhi and Hisar airports.
The King Air 250 needs a take-off distance of 2,111 feet which is just right keeping in view the average length of these airstrips. The aircraft can seat 7-10 persons.