Raipur, December 31
After CM Raman Singh and a couple of his ministers had to cancel their trips due to technical snags in State helicopter AW 109 Power helicopter in the recent past, Chhattisgarh government has reportedly decided to buy a new chopper.
According to information, technical expert have told the State government that it should switch over to new chopper in next 12 months as AW 109 Power copter would no more be safe to fly if it develops frequent technical snags in future. They further advised the government to go for the latest models of helicopters which are equipped with ultra-modern hi-tech features and said to be safest for VIP flights.
Five years back, State helicopter Maina had crashed in dense forests of Balaghat district under Madhya Pradesh in July 2007 when pilots Captain A S Sidhu and Captain Vikram Savekar failed to negotiate adverse weather condition and lost control as a consequence of which the chopper hit a hill. Two more persons aboard - engineer Amitabh Soni and technician Manish Badania also died in the incident.
In December 2007, the State government purchased AW 109 Power from Anglo-Italian helicopter company AgustaWestland at the cost of Rs 25.66 crore. In five years, this chopper is on verge of completing its total flight duration, an indication that it is the right time to replace it with the newer one.
However, experts say, the government would get good resale value of AW 109 Power helicopter from the manufacturer itself despite occurrence of technical snags and completion of five years. They said in the global aviation market, the manufacturers usually buyback their products and sell new models with an aim to retain their customers.
They estimate that the government could get Rs 15-20 crore if it would exchange AW 109 Power copter with a latest model the AgustaWestland. In this manner, the government would have to shell out less bucks in obtaining new chopper, they add.
According to government’s aviation department, the manufacturer will provide the new helicopter to the State at least in one year if order would be placed now. However, according to given procedures, the government would have to first invite global tenders from aviation industries pertaining to its requisite. It will also have to constitute a separate committee to deal tendering process. Sources close to State aviation department informed that the decision regarding new chopper would be taken by January end.