A helicopter carrying Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao was forced to change course, after it was stuck in turbulent weather near Nanded on Friday, sparking a safety scare.
The governor is on a three-day tour across Nanded, Aurangabad and Dhule.
Officials said the chopper, a 12-seater Sikorsky S-76C++ that the state uses to ferry VIPs, reached its destination 25 minutes late because of the sudden weather build up after take-off from Nanded city. The eastbound chopper was forced to turn northward to avoid the turbulent weather system, they said.
But local authorities said the chopper had lost its way.
“Although we use all-weather choppers that can fly at night and through fog, they are not capable of penetrating turbulent weather. A detour was taken to avoid this weather system,” said captain Sanjay Karve, director general of aviation with the state government, who was also flying the helicopter. Karve said the weather the chopper encountered is known as high-temperature turbulence, common during summers. “When the temperature touches 46 degrees Celsius, such weather systems develop and last for around two hours.”
An inquiry has been ordered by the national aviation safety regulator directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA). “Preliminary reports suggest the chopper took a detour because of poor weather. But, we might question the pilot, as initial updates indicate the crew had the wrong coordinates,” said a senior DGCA official, requesting anonymity.
The chopper was also forced to fly back to Nanded to pick up additional fuel. “The fuel was just about enough for a flight from Jawarla (where the chopper flew with the Governor from Nanded) to Aurangabad. But as we had encountered sudden erratic weather, we decided to go back to Nanded to pick up the extra fuel,” Karve said.