The tampering with the gearbox of the helicopter that industrialist Anil Ambani was supposed to use on April 23 has brought the aircraft maintenance company, Air Works India Engineering, into sharp focus.
But according to police officials, who did not wish to be quoted, this is not the first time Air Works employees have been caught in a controversy. There have been several such instances and each time, they got off lightly, without any formal police complaint being registered.
The sources said in June 2008, a stone was thrown at an aircraft parked in the Air Works hangar. Again in October 2008, some employees attempted to set an electrical instrument within the hangar on fire. Also, staffers were caught bursting crackers inside the hangar in November 2008 and January and March 2009. They were let off with only a reprimand.
Police said the four technicians who’d been interrogated were Bharat Borge, Ram Shankar Chavan and helpers Uday Narekar and Balaraj Ganapathy. It was Borge who first brought it to the notice of the authorities that pebbles and gravel were put in the filler neck of the aircraft’s gearbox.
Although Ravi S. Menon, Air Works’ director and group head, business development, refused to take a call from this reporter, a company release said it had taken the matter “extremely seriously”. On Saturday, it did not allow 52 of its non-technical helper staff to report on duty. It advised them to remain off duty till investigations are over.