Maharashtra to make do with old chopper, save money

Mumbai, Jan 19 (IANS) The Maharashtra government decided on Tuesday against buying new helicopters for Rs.1 billion and instead to get its existing chopper repaired at a cost of about Rs.24 crore.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, according to officials.

Investing in a new chopper would have entailed an expenditure of around Rs.100 crore which would now be saved, the officials said after the cabinet meeting.

The state government’s existing eight-seater Dauphin AS-365N3 helicopter was acquired from the French manufacturer EuroCopters in 2001 for Rs.23 crore and used to ferry ‘very important persons’ like the governor, chief minister, deputy chief minister and state guests.

For the past five years, the state government was toying with the idea of replacing the Dauphin with two new twin-engine choppers and even invited tenders for the purpose.

As the Dauphin is out of service, the state government currently uses a Sikoesky S76C chopper, acquired in December 2011, for ferrying its ‘very important persons’ and state guests.

After the Dauphin is repaired, it will be air-worthy for at least 10-15 years, besides savings on maintenance and other costs, officials said.

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