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Chopper mishap: Narrow escape for President

Last updated on: December 09, 2009 21:34 IST

Patil, 75, and other passengers including her husband Devisingh Shekhawat and Orissa Governor M C Bhandare escaped unhurt and were safe, a senior police official said..

 

The accident happened when three rotor blades of the helicopter, which was bringing Patil and the others back from Puri, hit an abandoned asbestos shed at approximately 5 pm, the official said. The weather at the time of the incident was clear, he added. The three blades got twisted and the roof of the shed was ripped off after being struck, said Director of Biju Patnaik Airport Sanjay Jain.

 

The shed, which was once a hangar, was being used as a store-room, he added.

 

A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson described the incident as minor. "The incident took place when the helicopter was taxiing from the runway to the tarmac. On the way, the rotor blades of the helicopter hit the wall of an abandoned structure. The President is safe and so are all other passengers," she said in New Delhi.

 

However, Air Marshal (Retired) Denzil Keelor, an aviation expert, said the incident involving Patil's chopper was 'serious'.

 

The IAF has instituted a Court of Inquiry into the incident

 

"The helicopter was returning from Puri and Konark and had landed at the Bhubaneshwar airport. While taxiing in, its blades hit a shed near the parking bay and were damaged. The incident took place around 5 pm today. Everyone in the chopper is safe," said an IAF official.

 

The President carried on with her programme as usual after the incident, sources said adding that Patil, her husband and the Orissa governor were being flown in a VVIP entourage of three Mi-8 VVIP helicopters of the IAF.

 

This is the second major incident involving helicopters of the pPresidential entourage. The first incident was a near-collision between choppers of the VVIP fleet and an Air India aircraft at the Mumbai airport on February 9.

 

The incident had occurred when the helicopters landed on the tarmac while Air India's flight IC-866 was picking up speed for take off. The AI pilot averted an accident by aborting take off and swerving to the taxiway in a matter of seconds.

 

A probe, jointly carried out by the IAF and the DGCA, had found that the IAF chopper landed on the runway without clearance from the air traffic controllers.   

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