Intra-state chopper services suspended

First Arunachalee cabin crew Tago Asha


*Choppers in Vietnam for maintenance

By Pradeep Kumar

NAHARLAGUN, Dec 06: Helicopter services across land-locked Arunachal Pradesh will remain suspended for sometimes except daily Naharalguna-Guwahati-Tawang-Guwahati-Naharlagun six-day except Sunday as operator Sky One Airways Pvt Ltd has sent its MI-172 choppers for maintenance to Vietnam.

The Skyone has been operating MI-172 chopper service with a standby which was withdrawn and second chopper sent for maintenance for which no within state service will be available at least till December 9, informed sources told this daily.

The state Govt offers helicopter services to Pasighat, Aalo, Mechuka, Anini, Roing, Dambuk, Tali, Ziro, Daporijo, Mohanbari, Miao, Vijaynagar, Yingkiong, Tuting and Koloaring on different days, which have been suspended causing suffering for the commuters.

Though one Vell-412 helicopter is at the disposal of the state Govt, but requisitions including MI-172 to ferry VVIPs disrupt the routine weekly air services to different far-flung areas of the state. However, the suspension of services would continue till the choppers return from Vietnam.

It may be mentioned here that MI-172 manufactured by Kazan Helicopters of Russia and equipped with 2 TV3-117VM engines, is one of the most popular MI helicopters in the world because of its versatility, multi-mission capability, high performance and endurance. State-owned Southern Vietnam operator VNH South has been efficiently operating this chopper for ONGC & VIP transportation.

Thus, after repeated accidents of GoI-owned Pawan Hans helicopters in the state, its service was suspended and the state Govt had signed MoU with Delhi-based Sky One Airways Pvt Ltd in October 2016 under UDAN scheme for inter and intra-state helicopter services when Deepraj Sirohi was its head of operations.

The Union Cabinet had approved subsidized Guwahati-Tawang helicopter service on 30.01.08 and announced by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Itanagar on 31.01.08. The 75% subsidy by the Centre and Guwahati-Itanagar four-lane project were part of the massive economic package announced by Dr Singh, any PM visiting the state after a gap of 12 years.

Lack of road, rail, air and water connectivity is the greatest hindrance for development of land-locked Arunachal Pradesh for which former chief minister, late Dorjee Khandu had brought the turnaround to accelerate the communication process.

Moreover, appointing former Amy chief J J Singh considering the repeated claim of China over territory of this Himalayan state, which had graduated to parliamentary in 1975, was another important decision of then Dr Singh-led UPA Govt.

Another source, on condition of anonymity, said that Vietnam’s aviation sector ranks 5th among ASEAN countries and one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. That is why the Skyone has sent the choppers there for maintenance.

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