Pawan Hans or flying coffin?

While state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) -- which suspended its services in six north-eastern states on Sunday-- mulls the idea of resuming services next week, its Itanager office was attacked by protesters on Wednesday. Quoting a PHHL letter, the official said: "Services in the northeastern region are expected to start again middle of next week if the company is satisfied with the condition of its fleet. We are keeping close touch with PHHL officials in New Delhi."

 Pawan Hans or flying coffin?

Sakshi Television/AFP Photo

PTI reports that angry protesters smashed window panes and ransacked furniture after learning that the missing chopper carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had crashed. The same day, Sitaram Yechury, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, which also covers Civil Aviation, quoted from the initial report that the carrier carrying Khandu and four others was not on the flight route usually taken. "On what basis the path was cleared, who cleared it, the weather reports, all have to be taken into account during the investigations," Yechury said while releasing the report by his Committee on helicopter operations in the country.

On 19 April 2011 a Pawan hans MI 17 helicopter had crashed seconds before touch down at the Tawang helipad killing 17 of the 23 people on board. On 22 September 2004 Meghalaya was witness to another tragedy involving Pawan Hans when 10 people died in a crash including Meghalaya's Chief Minister's father in law. The blame was put on old helicopters. Till recently, the Punjab government used a helicopter from Pawan Hans. However, it cancelled the contract with the company following a crash in Chandigarh a few months ago.

PHHL is India’s lone national helicopter company that has been operating for the past nine years in the interior areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur with the union home ministry subsidising fares by up to 75%. The PHHL was set up in 1985; currently, the central government holds 51 per cent stakes in the company while the Oil and Natural Gas Corp has 49%. PHHL was established with the primary objective of providing helicopter support services to the oil sector for offshore exploration operations, services in remote and hilly areas and charter services for promotion of tourism.

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Updated Date: May 05, 2011 18:48:30 IST