Proposal to buy new chopper revived by government

Proposal to buy new chopper revived by government
Hyderabad The Andhra Pradesh government may revive the proposal to buy a new chopper for VVIP travel with its AW-139 helicopter gutted in a major fire on Monday night, officials said.

The state has lost two of its choppers in separate mishaps.

While the Bell 430 helicopter crashed in the Nallamala forest on September 2, 2009 killing the then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and four others, the Agusta Westland AW-139 was gutted in a fire at the old Begumpet airport on Monday night.

Andhra Pradesh Aviation Corporation that was set up in 2006 to manage the government fleet of choppers is now left without a single aircraft.

For over five years, the state government toyed with the proposal to purchase a Rs 150 crore jet aircraft for use by the Chief Minister and other VVIPs. But it was shelved owing to financial constraints of the government.

But, with the destruction of AW-139 now, the government might revive the proposal to purchase the jet aircraft or another modern helicopter for the Chief Minister's use, sources said.

The Rs 60-crore AW-139 that was lost in fire on Monday night was in use since November 2008 while the Rs 25-crore Bell-430 served two Chief Ministers - N Chandrababu Naidu and Y S Rajasekhara Reddy between 1998 and 2009.

The AW-139 last flew Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy on his trip to Ranga Reddy district on December 4.

APAC was sharing the old hangar located on the Bowenpally side of the Begumpet airport with the AP Aviation Academy.

It was in this hangar that the fire occurred gutting the AW-139 along with six other small training aircraft of the Aviation Academy.

The state government wanted to build an exclusive hangar for its aircraft at the Begumpet airport with an aircraft maintenance complex, administrative block and a VVIP lounge at a cost of Rs five crore.

The proposal, however, was pending for over four years and only three months ago the Airports Authority of India handed over a two-acre site to APAC for the new hangar, officials said.

"Designs for the new hangar are being readied and work is expected to start soon," APAC managing director (in charge) N V Ramana Reddy said.
Story First Published: December 18, 2012 20:37 IST

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