Two pilots killed as small plane crashes in Punjab (Lead)

October 29th, 2008 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Ludhiana, Oct 29 (IANS) Two pilots were killed Wednesday when a six-seater aircraft of the Punjab government crashed while landing at the Sahnewal airport near here, officials said.The King Air C-90 aircraft had taken off from Chandigarh at 10.50 a.m. on a trial flight after repairs. It crashed within minutes at Jugiana village near the airport, 20 km from here, a police official said.

Those killed were identified as pilots Manjit Singh Khokhar and K.K. Kataria, a Punjab government spokesman said here. Both were experienced pilots.

Punjab government civil aviation sources told IANS that the aircraft was not being used for some time and had been cleared for flying by the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) only last week after major repairs.

“It was on a trial flight from Chandigarh to Sahnewal after repairs,” said Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Sumer Singh.

The aircraft crashed in fields near an abandoned factory in Jugiana village, officials said.

Airport sources at Chandigarh said that the aircraft was not fit for flying but the pilots were told to do a trial flight to check its flying capabilities.

The plane was apparently being made ready for flying duties of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Badal had recently been facing flying troubles after the state government’s helicopter chartered from Pawan Hans developed a snag on several occasions. Badal was forced to travel by road at the last moment owing to a problem with the helicopter.

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