Jharkhand helicopter grounded after suspension of pilots

January 27th, 2009 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Jan 27 (IANS) Jharkhand’s only helicopter, bought to deal with Maoist attacks, is lying grounded as there is no pilot to fly it, a senior official of the state civil aviation department said.After the Dhruva helicopter was grounded, Jharkhand is depending on the Indian Air Force to carry security personnel injured in Maoist attacks.

Two pilots, hired on contract, were suspended after they violated the rules of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on several occasions. They are charged with giving free rides to people they know and flying beyond the permissible time period.

Chief pilot A.K. Srivastav was suspended Dec 8 last year while his assistant A. Mukherjee was suspended Jan 5 this year.

The helicopter was purchased from the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in 2007 by the state government at a cost of Rs.350 million.

Initially, the helicopter was grounded in the absence of trained pilots. When the pilots were hired last year, the helicopter meant for anti-Maoist operation was used by the chief minister and ministers of the state. Police rarely got it for anti-Maoist operations, the official said.

“We are looking for alternative arrangements. DGCA may revoke the suspension to allow pilots to fly the helicopter after warning them,” he said.

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