Pawan Hans to deploy two new choppers for Arunachal Pradesh

April 29th, 2011 - 9:13 pm ICT by ANI  

By Pradeep Kumar

Itanagar, Apr 29(ANI): Pawan Hans Helicopter Services Limited (PHHL) Executive Director Sanjeev Bahl on Friday said that the company would deploy two new MI-172 helicopters in Arunachal Pradesh in December.

Four pilots have been selected and would undergo training for the new helicopters.

Expressing deep shock at the April 19 Tawang helicopter crash, which killed 17 people and injured six, Bahl denied that mid-air fire or mayday was announced by the pilot before the crash.

Pointing out that the MI 17 or MI 172 choppers are most trustworthy choppers used in most of the countries even for flying presidents and prime ministers, he said airworthiness is the most important parameter for a chopper, whose life span goes beyond 25 years.

To clarify PHHL’s maintenance procedure, Bahl said that besides pre-flight, post-flight and stop-over maintenance, 50-hour, 100-hour (up to 1,000 hour) maintenance are conducted regularly at local base here as per DGCA guidelines while beyond 1,000-hour overhauling is done at Mumbai base and even the choppers are sent to Russia for the purpose.

Bahl further said that besides being the first air service provider to the state and its people, it has been assisting in airlifting heavy machines for BRO (engaged in building border roads), engaged in rescue missions to save precious lives, lifting police personnel to contain civil disturbance, airlifting ration to remote areas delinked by floods besides, men and materials during elections.

Earlier, Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, Takam Sanjoy, had demanded PHHL to deploy a new chopper for the immediate resumption of service on the Guwahati-Tawang route.

The helicopter service on the Guwahati-Tawang route was suspended in the wake of three probes being conducted over the April 19 chopper crash.

“I have asked the authorities to deploy a new chopper on the route, as Tawang is a popular tourist destination and people should not suffer due to suspension of the service. The Arunachalees who are dependent for their livelihood on tourism shouldn’t be affected due to suspension of the service,” Sanjoy said.

The 14-year-old MI-172, which had cancelled its routine passenger flight to Seppa on April 17 to undergo maintenance, had reportedly caught fire midair over Tawang on April 19 while flying from Guwhati with 17 passengers and five crew members. It dashed against the heliport wall and blast into flames causing the tragedy.

The PHHL has been operating five helicopters across Arunachal, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and daily Guwahati-Tawang services for the past nine years. It is one of the major lifelines of the landlocked Arunachal Pradesh.

Sanjoy, who has been vociferously taking up the issue with the Government of India, particularly the Defence Ministry after the MI 17 IAF chopper crash at Tawang on November 19 last year that had killed all 12 defence personnel, including three pilots, said that nothing should to left to chance after the investigation reports are submitted.

He had also called on Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi on April 21 and in a letter demanded to fix the accountability for poor maintenance and mandatory inspections of the chopper services as per DGCA rules.

As per demands made by the Arunachal MP in his memorandum to Ravi, the ministry advised DGCA to immediately take actions with a view to ensure safety of helicopter operations in the country and launch a reassurance drive to ensure that all copters are being operated and maintained in accordance with the approved procedures. (ANI)

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