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Maharashtra CM Fadnavis’ helicopter force-lands in Nashik

Chopper could not attain required altitude, but after CM’s cook got off, it took off and reached Aurangabad soon after

mumbai Updated: Dec 09, 2017 23:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra CM Fadnavis,Helicopter accident,chopper
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.(HT File Photo)

The chopper carrying chief minister Devendra Fadnavis force-landed soon after taking off in Nashik on Saturday as it was “overloaded”. The incident took place in the morning when Fadnavis along with his personal secretary, his cook and water resources minister Girish Mahajan were travelling from Nashik to Aurangabad. The chief minister’s office (CMO) said it wasn’t a major incident and offloading extra passengers was a routine process.

It was the fourth incident involving the CM’s chopper in past eight months. Fadnavis narrowly escaped an accident in Alibaug on July 7 when the chopper took off even as was getting in. His security personnel plunged forward and pulled Fadnavis away from the rotating blades. Following the incident, the state suspended chopper operations for VVIPs during the monsoon. It has now empaneled two agencies that provide choppers to fly VVIPs, including the Governor, CM and other ministers.

Earlier, on May 25, a state-owned helicopter crash landed at Nilanga, near Latur, minutes after taking off; no one was injured in the incident. On May 12, Fadnavis could not use the helicopter to travel from Gadchiroli to Mumbai after it developed a technical snag.

On Saturday, Fadnavis was scheduled to inaugurate the Maharashtra National Law University in Aurangabad around 10am. However, after taking off, the pilot could not take the chopper to the required height, apparently because the aircraft had more passengers.

“The chopper was struggling to take off as its main rotor was unable to lift and push it forward. After it stabilised, it made a descent to the ground,” an official said.

The chopper finally took off after the CM’s cook, Satish, got off and reached Aurangabad by road.

“The chopper has the capacity of 6 persons, but due to the fuel issues only four persons were allowed to board. After taking off, the pilot felt that it was safe to carry only three persons and requested offloading one passenger. It is a routine practice. The chopper took off again safely. CM attended all the programmes as per schedule by same chopper,” the statement from the CMO said.

Water resources minister Girish Mahajan, who is also the guardian minister of Nashik, said, “We had already taken all precautions by sending our bags by road. But even after that the pilot realised it [chopper] was still overweight and decided to land the chopper after ascending for about 150 feet. We reached Aurangabad within minutes after that.”

Nashik collector, Radhakrishnan B, said, “It was just an additional precaution taken by the pilot while taking decision of offloading a passenger. There was nothing serious about it. We have not been asked to submit any report about it.”

The state currently does not have any helicopters, and the one flying the CM on Saturday was hired from a private corporate house.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 12:46 IST