Machines hired by politicians, tycoons for election campaigning across the country

The ailing aviation industry is suddenly alive and kicking, thanks to the ensuing general elections. As the country gears up to face Lok Sabha elections simultaneously with three State Legislative Assembly elections, dozens of choppers across the country have been hired by politicians or business houses supporting them for canvassing.

The organisers failed to get even a single chopper to be a part of the Aviation Show in Hyderabad.

While the previous editions of Aviation Show boasted of magnificent display of helicopters, the manufacturers as well as the air charter companies this time around expressed their helplessness. For instance, Airbus had initially planned to display two of its single-engine models, EC 135 and AS350 B3 at the aviation show, but failed due to their non-availability.

‘Loss of business for owners’

“We had requested the operators, who are in possession of our models, to display them at the show. But they have refused to do so as the choppers are all engaged due to the election season. They have also conveyed that grounding the chopper for three days will be a big blow to their business,” an official said, adding that there was no point shipping a new chopper all the way from their plant in France.

Similarly, it was also expected that American manufacturer Sikorsky would get its popular model S-76D for the show. According to company sources, most of the buyers of the model are corporate honchos who refused to part with their chopper citing a busy campaign schedule.

High demand

A part of last years Aviation Show - Bell 206 helicopter - was supposed to be flown in for the show by the Pawan Hans Helicopters. However, owing to the demand for existing helicopters it could not be included this year.

“We tried our best to bring in a couple of helicopters and initially it was also confirmed that a few will participate. But there is so much demand for choppers, expensive or inexpensive ones from across the country, that our plans went haywire,” said an organising member.

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