The Bell-430 helicopter, which Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy took to fly to Chittoor district on Wednesday, was virtually dusted off from a hangar at the Begumpet airport here.
It was exactly one year ago that the State government acquired a brand new AgustaWestland AW-139 helicopter from the company’s main facility in Italy for Rs. 58 crore. But, Dr. Reddy had no option other than using the Bell-430 as the AgustaWestland helicopter was recently sent for overhaul after having been in operation for one full year.
The Bell-430, purchased from the U.S. for Rs. 26 crore, was found inadequate as it lacked night-landing facility and often required repairs and overhaul. On Wednesday, it was flown by a new pilot in place of the Chief Minister’s regular pilot who was drawn from the Indian Air Force.
The Bell helicopter was transferred to the A.P. Aviation Corporation, constituted recently to undertake commercial operations of helicopters, and ever since it had been confined to the hangar.
The AgustaWestland was brought to New Delhi first by a Russian cargo aircraft in August last year and flown to Hyderabad on September 15 after trials.