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DGCA begins probe into crash-landing of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ chopper

Mumbai city news: Maharashtra government likely to buy a new helicopter after Thursday’s incident left state with only one aircraft in service

mumbai Updated: Jun 08, 2017 10:36 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Devendra Fadnavis,Fadnavis chopper
The chopper after it crash-landed at Latur on Thursday. The pilot encountered “variable wind pattern” after taking off and decided to turn the government-owned Sikorsky helicopter around just as it had reached 80 feet. However, while landing, the chopper got entangled in electricity wires and came crashing down.(HT)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday began an inquiry into the crash-landing of the Maharashtra government’s helicopter at Latur on Thursday.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and four others emerged unhurt, while a sixth person suffered minor bruises.

The DGCA grounded the helicopter’s two pilots until the inquiry is completed.

As the Sikorsky S-76C++ sustained substantial damages in Thursday’s incident, the state government, which is now left with one operational aircraft, is looking to buy a new helicopter.

It will probably buy from the same make — Sikorsky — a US company, a source said.

To investigate the accident, a team comprising four officials — two from Delhi and two from western region — reached Latur on Thursday. They have also taken down the statements of the pilots and will submit a report soon.

After the accident, the state government is currently left with one pilot and will have to completely depend upon two private agencies recently appointed to provide fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters on hire.

The state government has only three pilots and according to DGCA rules, both the pilots — Captain Sanjay Karve and Captain Mohit Sharma who flew the chopper on Thursday are not allowed to fly until the probe is completed. The state has a Cessna Citation 560XLS high-end aircraft purchased in 2013.

And according to the rules, two pilots are needed to fly an aircraft having space for only two pilots.

It means it is not in a position to use its only aircraft.

Valsa Nair Singh, principal secretary, general administration department, said they have started the procedure for buying a new helicopter. “A high-power committee (HPC) on March 14 this year had already decided to dispose of the second helicopter — Dauphin AS 365 N-3 — and buy a new one.

The government will probably prefer the same Sikorsky model helicopter considering the crashworthy wheels and a fire-resistant tank fuel, causing it to be considered the best aircraft for VVIP movement,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, the government is in a process of approaching the appointed agencies for hiring aircraft for the CM’s Nashik visit to attend an education society’s centenary event on Sunday, said an official.

The Sikorsky helicopter, purchased in 2011, is insured with the New India Assurance Company and the state has started the process to claim the insurance amount — Rs56 crore, said a source.

The state government owns two helicopters and two aircraft, of which only one helicopter and an aircraft are in service.

The Superking AB 300 aircraft was purchased in July 1998 for Rs17.24crore. It was used for 11 years.

The Dauphin AS 365 N-3 helicopter purchased in 2001 for Rs23 crore was used till 2011 and has been grounded for want of repairs.

All the VIP aircrafts are meant for the governor, chief minister and ministers who have got permission from the CM.

The state government has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to gain the desired selling prices for both the Dauphin AS 365 N-3 and Superking AB 300.


Maharashtra chief minister Fadnavis’ chopper that crashed in Latur was not old, had flown only 1,300 hours

First Published: May 27, 2017 01:37 IST