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Haryana chief minister ML Khattar’s flying machine to arrive by September

While Haryana civil aviation minister had in April said the new aircraft could cost $62,50,000 (around Rs 40 crore), finance minister Capt Abhimanyu said the purchase committee was able to get a lower price.

india Updated: May 29, 2018 13:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Haryana chief minister,ML Khattar,Khattar’s flying machine
The High Powered Purchase Committee (HPPC) recently approved the purchase of the 10-seater Beechcraft King Air 250. (Biswajit Debnath/HT)

A luxurious state-owned aircraft will soon be at the command of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The High Powered Purchase Committee (HPPC) recently approved the purchase of the 10-seater Beechcraft King Air 250. “The order has been placed and delivery is expected by September,’’ said an official of the state civil aviation department. The CM and the governor will use the state aircraft.

Soon after taking over the reins of the state in 2014, Khattar had turned down a proposal to buy a new state aircraft. In fact, the chief minister who was a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue had preferred austerity by travelling either by commercial or chartered flights or by train. However, regular air travel by Khattar and the governor, KS Solanki, by chartered flights seems to have become increasingly inconvenient and expensive and resulted in the move to buy the new aircraft.

While state civil aviation minister, Rao Narbir Singh, had in April, said the new aircraft could cost about $62,50,000 (around Rs 40 crore), finance minister Capt Abhimanyu, who heads the HPPC, said the purchase committee was able to get a lower price than the rate that the manufacturers of Beechcraft, Textron Aviation, had quoted.

“We negotiated hard to get a very competitive price from the company,’’ the finance minister added.

The state already has a twin-engine helicopter that was purchased during the Congress rule at a cost of 5.5 million euros (Rs 33 crore) in 2009. A Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft, also bought during the Congress rule, had, in 2014, crashed at the Chandigarh airport soon after taking off. The then governor, Jagannath Pahadia, his wife and other officials on board had a miraculous escape.

Civil aviation officials said the Beechcraft King Air 250 — an upgraded version of King Air 200 — has been 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 that is just right, keeping in view the average length of these airstrips,” he added.

The proposal to purchase a new aircraft from the public exchequer was mooted during the previous Congress rule after a government Beech Super King Air B-200 crashed at the Chandigarh airport.

First Published: May 29, 2018 13:14 IST