Maha: Mysterious chopper belongs to private firm

The helicopter that had landed at Harnai-Palande in coastal Ratnagiri district belongs to a private company, police said on Sunday.

Mumbai: The helicopter that had landed at
Harnai-Palande in coastal Ratnagiri district belongs to a
private company, police said on Sunday.

According to police, the helicopter belongs to a company
called Global Vectra and was flying from Belgaum in Karnataka
to Juhu in Mumbai.

Two unidentified persons had allegedly conducted a recce
of the area after disembarking from the chopper.

"The air traffic control in Mumbai has informed us that
the chopper belongs to a company called Global Vectra. It was
flying from Belgaum to Juhu," Raigad SP Pradip Raskar said.

He added that police now intend to call the company
officials to find out the reason behind the landing.

According to local people, the helicopter had yesterday
landed in the village at around 4.30 pm and two persons had
moved around in the area for about 5-10 minutes after
alighting from the helicopter.

"Then they boarded it and flew towards an unidentified
location," police had said.

Following the incident, the Mumbai and Goa Air Traffic
Control and Navy had been alerted yesterday.

Meanwhile the Mumbai police today questioned the pilot
of the chopper who told them that a halt was taken at
Ratnagiri for `fuel calculation`.

"We have questioned pilot Captain Nair. He told us
that the chopper was flying from Belgaum to Juhu and he had
taken a halt for fuel calculation," DCP Prathaprao Dighavkar
said here today.

Meanwhile, Global Vectra Helicorp Limited in an e-mail
statement said it was a "precautionary landing" necessitated
by weather conditions and that the helicopter VT-AZX was on a
routine aerial photography shoot in Karnataka.

The photography from the air was being done after
obtaining necessary clearances from DGCA and Defence Ministry,
and a security officer nominated by the Ministry was on board,
it said.

"The helicopter after completion of the shoot was being
ferried back to its base Juhu, Mumbai via Belgaum. It departed
from Belgaum on October 8 at 3 pm for Juhu for the ferry. Capt
D S Nayyar was the pilot in command," the company said.

After its take off from Belgaum, the weather en route in
the Ghat sections started deteriorated and it started
drizzling and visibility was poor, it said.

"As a safe practice, the pilot diverted the helicopter
towards west to come out from hilly terrain and flew towards
the coast line of Ratnagiri and made precautionary landing at
Ratnagiri beach in an open area," the statement said.

"The helicopter touched down at 4.30 pm. After assessing
that weather was clear along the coast line and that there was
sufficient fuel to continue the flight, the pilot decided to
take off for Juhu," it added.

While passing through the rainy weather the camera
mounted for shoot got wet and during the precautionary landing
the camera technician and helicopter engineer got off to
remove the camera from the nose of the helicopter to avoid
further damage, it further said.

The helicopter continued its flight to Juhu as per
approved flight plan. In the evening after landing at Juhu,
the details of precautionary landing were informed to Movement
Liaison Unit, the company said.


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