Andhra CM’s chopper was faulty: Report

The airworthiness of the missing Bell 430 helicopter in which Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was on board has raised questions amid reports it had a troubled past.

Last Updated: Sep 03, 2009, 00:23 AM IST

Hyderabad/New Delhi: The airworthiness of the
missing Bell 430 helicopter in which Andhra Pradesh Chief
Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was on board has raised
questions amid reports it had a troubled past but the DGCA
said there was nothing to suggest it was unfit for flying.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the
civil aviation regulator which also provides licenses to
aircraft and their operators, said the required licenses of
the chopper were renewed on a regular basis.

Andhra chief secretary Ramakant Reddy, however, said state`s Directorate General of Civil Aviation had confirmed that the certificate of airworthiness was renewed in December last year.

When contacted, officials of the Bell company, who
requested anonymity, also maintained that it was mandatory for
any aircraft to renew its licenses every year on the basis of
compliance of technical grounds. Besides this, flight
engineers have to sign documents on a daily basis after
carrying out required maintenance, they said.

However, this particular aircraft was experiencing
technical trouble on a regular basis and, therefore, was
currently being used to train pilots, sources in the Chief
Minister`s Office said in Hyderabad.

A few months ago, the helicopter had suffered a fault
mid-air when it was carrying Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai
Lama from Hyderabad to Gulbarga, they said, but nothing
untoward happened.

Today`s instance is the second such case to happen in the dense
forests of Andhra Pradesh since last year.

On August 3, 2008, a private helicopter with its four
crew members on board, went missing when it was flying to the
thick Bastar forest area in Chhattisgarh.

About three months later parts of a helicopter were
located in Pamanuru forest area in Andhra Pradesh.

Police had then claimed the chopper might have crashed
in Bastar due to low visibility following heavy rains.

The skeletal remains of the crew members were
reportedly traced in Pamunur hills, about 230 km from Khammam,
on the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border.

Air tragedies not new for political leaders

Tragedies have struck many
air-borne political leaders

Sanjay Gandhi was killed when the glider he was flying
crashed at the Safdarjung airport in Delhi some 29 years back.

Madhavrao Scindia was killed in a plane crash on
September 30, 2001, less than a decade ago when he was
travelling to Kanpur for addressing a Congress rally.

Lok Sabha Speaker G M C Balayogi died in a chopper
crash on March 3, 2002 in West Godavari district, Andhra
Pradesh.

Haryana ministers O P Jindal and Surendra Singh were
killed in a chopper crash a few years back.

Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President
and Union Ministers Prithviraj Chauhan and Selja had a
miraculous escape in 2004 when the rear portion of their
chopper broke on landing at a helipad in Khanvel, a village in
south Gujarat.

Bureau Report