Friday, January 12, 2018

High chopper charge under scanner

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the state could negotiate and bring down the helicopter charges for chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan's Thrissur - Thiruvananthapuram up and down journey by over Rs 5 lakh, industry sources are doubtful whether the negotiated rate of Rs 8 lakh was also comparatively high.

Already the opposition has demanded a vigilance probe into the controversial deals, and some activists are also planning to move court.
According to the controversial government order to meet the copter charges from the Disaster Relief Fund, the rate of Rs 13,09,800 sought by Chipsan Aviation was reduced to Rs 8 lakh through negotiation for the AgustaWestland AW109 lightweight, twin-engine aircraft.

Police sources, as well as an official of Chipsan Aviation, said that the rate could be reduced by bringing the helicopter from Mysore, instead of Bangalore.

However, industry sources said that helicopter was brought from Mangalore, and after the chief minister's use on December 26 it was stationed in Kerala itself till January 1 for an NRI businessman.
According to the official of another aviation operator, the distance from Mangalore to Thrissur is around 150 and from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram 125 nautical miles.

The average flying cost of helicopters of AW109 type is around Rs 1.5 lakh per hour, and the average speed is around 130 nautical miles.

Considering these specifications, the maximum cost for operating from Mangalore to Thrissur and from there to Thiruvananthapuram and back to Thrissur would be only around Rs 6 lakh, including landing and other expenses.
Since the helicopter was stationed in the state itself till Jan 1, the cost for flying back to Mangalore from Thrissur need not be met by the state government, said the official on condition of anonymity.
12/01/18 Arjun Raghunath/Deccan Chronicle