The BJP state president, Mangal Pandey, and the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, aboard a chopper had a few anxious moments on Friday afternoon.
The flying machine had to make a precautionary landing around 10 minutes after take-off from the state hangar at the city airport. The two BJP leaders were on their way to Begusarai and Darbhanga to address election rallies. The light twin-engine Montreal Bell 206 L4 chopper had attained the height of about 2,000ft and had flown around five nautical miles (10km) when it made the return sortie.
Terming the landing a smooth one, flight captain S.K. Bhalla told The Telegraph: “We had to make the precautionary landing after the warning lights went on. The landing was safe and no major snag was found in the preliminary inspection of the chopper.”
The two passengers also claimed that they did not feel anything like imbalance while the chopper was landing. “The chopper was above Kachchi Dargah when some red lights blinked. Alert beeps were also heard. The flight captain told us that the chopper cannot fly further and it needs to land. He told us that there is no need of emergency landing as it could go back to the state hangar and land safely. We did not feel any kind of discomfort or turbulence while landing,” said Yadav.
Sources in the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at the Patna airport said no serious alert was issued from the chopper for making the landing. “We got a communication from the helicopter around 10 minutes after its take-off, requesting a precautionary landing and it was granted. The pilot would now submit his report on the landing. It would be sent to directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) with a report from the state civil aviation department,” said an official at the ATC.
Civil aviation experts said the precautionary landing was not hazardous but there might have been some serious snags. “If the audio or visual warning systems for precautionary landing go on after the chopper is airborne for more than two nautical miles, the nature of malfunction might not be very serious but it could have been slightly serious. If the captain would have continued with the flight, the chopper could have developed some snags. A clear picture would emerge only after the pilot and the civil aviation department submit their report to DGCA,” said Atul Singh, the executive director of Centre for Aviation, Policy, Safety and Research in New Delhi.
The seven-seater helicopter supplied by Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited came to the city on Friday morning. Captain Bhalla claimed that the chopper was fine during its Delhi-Patna journey as well as at the time of its take-off from the state hangar in the afternoon.