GANDHINAGAR: An inquiry has been ordered after a safety lapse and technical snag in the state government’s VVIP helicopter on Republic Day forced chief minister Vijay Rupani and governor O P Kohli to return to Gandhinagar by road from Anand. The helicopter had failed to take off.
A major accident was luckily averted. The leaders were to return to Gandhinagar on by noon after Republic Day celebrations, the helicopter failed to take off at the last minute, and they decided to travel by road as private helicopter service was not available at such short notice.
A key official close to the development said: “It’s fortunate that the technical problem in the filter of the engine, which choked the fuel supply happened while the aircraft was grounded, as such a snag in the air would have proved disastrous. Attempts were made to hire a private helicopter, but it not available at such short notice.”
“The government has ordered an inquiry, as any such issue in the future could be risky as it is a single-engine helicopter. The government has also decided to expedite the process of buying a new helicopter. However, the government has to take a policy decision. Only a single bidder, Airbus, has given proposal as the other key manufacturer, Agusta, has been blacklisted. The government allocated Rs 25 crore as a primary fund, however, a new helicopter may cost between Rs 70 crore and Rs 100 crore. The current helicopter is more than a decade old and does not comply with the new specifications from the government of India,” added the source.