Maharashtra government to buy new chopper for Devendra Fadnavis and governor
Mumbai city news: The decision was taken after two helicopters were grounded and private agencies suspended from flying the CM and other VIPs.mumbai Updated: Jul 14, 2017 09:21 IST
After chief minister Devendra Fadnavis escaped an accident in Alibaug last week, the state government has decided to buy a new helicopter to fly him and governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao. The decision was taken after two helicopters were grounded and private agencies suspended from flying the CM and other VIPs.
The state has also decided to extend the suspension for the entire monsoon season. “The helicopters operated by private agencies are not sturdy enough to handle the volatile weather and are risky. The government helicopter — Sikorsky S76 — bought in 2011 and grounded after it was crash landed in Latur on May 25, was an all-weather chopper and one of the best in the country,” said a Mantralaya official.
Another chopper owned by the state — a Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin — has not been in operation for the past six years. “We have no option but to go for a new chopper. The government may go for an advanced version of Bell or Sikorsky based on the guidelines by the Director General of Civil Aviation. Private operators charge at least Rs1 lakh more per tour. The government-owned choppers and fixed-wing aircraft are much safer,” said the official.
The state’s Cessna Citation 560 XLS aircraft, which it bought in 2008, is still in use. Another aircraft Beechcraft Super King Air 350, bought in 1998, was grounded in 2009. Though the state cabinet has decided to revive it, the officials do not believe it is feasible.