Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maharashtra govt plans to take private choppers on short-term lease

Mumbai: The state government, which is without a chopper now and hires it from two private firms, has come up with a short-term lease policy, which will allow privately owned choppers to be temporarily stationed in the city to meet its requirements.
“The new policy will help us save up on costs as only flying hours will be considered. Tenders were floated in August last week. We have finalised three firms, which are ready to station their aircraft in the city for our needs. Only companies based in the country were allowed to participate in the tender,” said the official.
“The policy will primarily help us avail two things: safety and a dedicated crew, who are the best in the field. Not compromising on the safety of VIPs was our primary motto when we drafted this policy.
We are now awaiting the high-powered committee’s approval for the companies,” said Valsa Nair, principal secretary, civil aviation. Last week, the last state-owned chopper, which had remained unused since 2011, an Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, was donated to a flying school after Cabinet approval. Another state-owned chopper, a Sirkosky, was grounded after it crashed in Nilanga in May with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis onboard.
As a replacement, two new choppers are likely to be bought by the government, tenders of which are yet to be floated. The new helicopters are expected to cost the state between Rs 150 crore and Rs 175 crore. Till they arrive, the government only has a fixed-wing Cessna Citation, purchased in 2008 for flying VIPs.
13/09/17 Neha Kulkarni/Indian Express