BENGALURU: There were some tense moments when smoke was noticed in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s helicopter before take-off at the HAL airport on Saturday.
Siddaramaiah, Home Minister K J George, PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa and CM’s joint secretary T Ramaiah were on board at the time and were scheduled to fly to Mysuru.
The chopper was grounded following the snag. It is said that the smoke was noticed in the rear during the pre-flight checks. Captain Unnikrishnan, who was in charge of the chopper, stopped it after ground staff informed him about the smoke.
Following Unnikrishnan’s advice against going by the chopper, Siddaramaiah proceeded to Mysuru by road.
Unnikrishnan told Express that smoke was normally seen during take-off and landing and not when the chopper was on the ground. “It was unusual. So we immediately decided to give the copter a complete check,” he said, adding that they were unable to find any fault with the engine or other parts of the chopper. “We decided not to fly the chief minister though there was nothing wrong with the chopper during the check-up after the smoke was detected,” Unnikrishnan said.
Jagdeesh, superintendent of police for CM’s security, however, said that the smoke was caused due to a short circuit.
Unnikrishnan informed the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation and other authorities concerned about the technical snag and the decision to cancel the scheduled flight.
Siddaramaiah has been using the Eurocopter EC135, a twin-engine civil helicopter belonging to Delhi-based Prabhatam Aviation Pvt Ltd, since October 2014. “We have flown the CM for close to 100 hours,” Unnikrishnan said, adding that the chopper was relatively new with a total flying of around 700 hours.
“It’s around six years old. The copter lasts for over 20,000 hours or 20 years,” he said.
The chopper had undergone all routine tests before being taken to the VIP bay at the HAL airport, Unnikrishnan said.