President Pranab Mukherjee was forced to deplane from the Indian Air Force helicopter that was to take him to Puducherry, after it developed a technical snag at the last moment.
According to sources, the chopper developed the snag soon after he boarded at Chennai airport around 10.15 am. “He was on board and the pilot was primed for take-off when the snag was noticed, so he decided to power down and use the spare chopper,” said the source. The Centra and armed forces have launched separate enquiries into the incident.
The convocation in Puducherry that he was to attend may have been delayed, but for the IAF having stationed two reserve choppers there. After waiting for about 15 minutes in the lounge as the secondary chopper powered up, Mukherjee departed at a little past 10.40 am. Despite reports that he was detained for up to 50 minutes because of the snag, officials maintained that the delay was ‘minimal’.
The air force had brought three helicopters for the President’s visit to Puducherry. Mukherjee arrived at Chennai by a special air force aircraft on Tuesday. On returning from Puducherry, he used the same plane to fly to the next destination on his six-city tour.