Mumbai: After Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ narrow escapes in helicopter mishaps at Latur and Raigadh, the State government has decided to purchase a new chopper for VIPs.
State Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick said that the State government will float a global tender to purchase the helicopter, which would be ‘more secure and advanced’, with state-of-the art safety features.
A High-Power Committee (HPC) headed by Mullick also approved the disposal of the State government’s two mothballed aircraft — a Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin and a Beechcraft Super King Air 350. Crew will also be recruited on a contract basis for the State’s only operational plane, an eight-seater Cessna Citation 560 XLS bought in 2008.
The committee is also considering disposing of the Sikorsky helicopter as its repair cost will be huge and the insurance will fetch the State only Rs 10-12 crore. Mullick said that the government has two helicopters, but neither is operational.
The Sikorsky, bought in 2011, has been rendered unusable after it crash landed in Latur while ferrying Fadnavis. The Dauphin hasn’t been used in five years. According to a rough estimate, these old helicopters will fetch the government Rs 1 crore each. “There is also a discussion whether to donate them to a flying club or use them for public displays. A final decision is yet to be taken,” said Mullick.
It will take four months to procure the helicopter from the time of placing an order. A helicopter can cost nearly Rs 100 crore. Currently, the government has contracted two private companies to provide helicopters for VIP movement. “Hiring the helicopters is costly as we have to pay the cost of flying them from their base station,” Mullick said.