Missing chopper was not airworthy: sources


The Andhra Pradesh Resident Commissioner here, Rajat Bhargava, was unable to explain why the chief minister chose to fly by an old chopper when he had a new one, Agusta AW 139, bought for Rs 58 crores.

The sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the aviation regulator, said that Bell 430 was not airworthy and its certificate of airworthiness had not been renewed for the last two years.

The new Italian chopper was put into service from November last year, the sources said.
Soon afterward, the Bell 430 was handed over to the Andhra Pradesh Aviation Corp for commercial operations. According to one official, the police in Andhra Pradesh were now using the chopper.

The Bell 430 was then taken out of service for the chief minister due to its limited seating capacity and lack of night-landing capability. This is not the first incident of this kind involving Bell choppers in Andhra Pradesh.

In March 2002, a Bell 206 B-3 Jetranger helicopter, owned by Deccan Aviation Pvt Ltd, crashed in Andhra Pradesh killing then Lok Sabha speaker G M C Balayogi. After hitting a coconut tree and high-tension power lines, it crashed in a fishpond at Kovvadalanka while flying from Bhimavaram to Hyderabad.

In another incident, a Bell 430 chopper crashed in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh killing four people, according to the DGCA website. Bell 430 is a four-blade twin-engine high-speed corporate and executive helicopter capable of speeding up to 257 km an hour. It can carry five passengers besides two pilots.

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