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The chopper YSR chose not to take.

ANDHRA Pradesh chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy chose to fly by a Bell 430 helicopter rather than his new chopper -- the Agusta AW139 -- bought from Italy in August 2008.

The Bell 430, which was bought by the Chandrababu Naidu government in June 1999 at a cost of Rs 25 crore, was supposed to be taken out of the service of the chief minister due to its limited seating and absence of night- landing capability.

The state government acquired the more spacious eight- seater AW139 at a cost of Rs 58 crore from AgustaWestland.

Since then, he has been using the new helicopter only.

However, there was no word from the government as to why the chief minister took the Bell 430, rather than AW139, for his Chittoor trip on Wednesday.

Sources claimed the Bell 430 helicopter had not renewed its airworthy certificate for the last two years. According to the rules, choppers have to be checked and certified once every year, but this chopper's certification was pending, sources said.

However, the state's Aviation Academy managing director K. V. Brahmananda Reddy said the helicopter was fully airworthy and suitably equipped. The directorgeneral of civil aviation had issued the certificate of airworthiness until 2010.

Reddy said the two pilots -- Group Capt S. K. Bhatia and Capt M. S. Reddy -- were fully qualified and highly experienced. The aircraft got airborne with fuel adequate for three hours. He further said the helicopter was suitably equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, which would have activated in case of a crash- landing or any other unforeseen eventuality.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 3, 2009
Previous Article:Hunt for Reddy continues in vain.
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