Rs 191cr plane for Gujarat CM
The BJP government in Gujarat has purchased an aircraft worth Rs 191 crore for use by the chief minister and other dignitaries like the governor and the deputy chief minister, wrapping up a delayed procurement process launched five years ago.
The swanky two-engine Bombardier Challenger 650 will be delivered in the next two weeks, officials said on Wednesday. The aircraft can carry 12 passengers and has a flying range of around 7,000km, much higher than the Beechcraft Super King aircraft that has been used to ferry the chief minister and other dignitaries in the state for the past 20 years.
The Bombardier Challenger 650 can fly at a speed of around 870kmph.
An official said the Beechcraft Super King could actually ferry four to five passengers, not the stated capacity of nine, as additional fuel needed to be carried along because of its limited flying range.
“Refuelling is also a big issue with the old aircraft, which is not the case with this new Bombardier. Because of these limitations, the Beechcraft Super King would take around five hours to reach Guwahati from here (Ahmedabad),” he said, adding that the new aircraft would take only one hour and forty minutes to cover the same distance as it did not require refuelling.
Another official said: “The Bombardier Challenger 650 aircraft worth around Rs 191 crore will be delivered to us (Gujarat government) in the third week of this month. All formalities related to its procurement have been completed.”
The director of civil aviation, Gujarat, Captain Ajay Chauhan, said it would take another two months before the new jet could become airborne “as we need to take approvals and clearances from the customs department, the DGCA and other authorities”.
An official said the state government’s Beechcraft had been in service for the past 20 years. He said the procurement process for the new aircraft started five years ago. “We succeeded in acquiring a new aircraft in the third bid,” said the official.
He said the Bombardier had a longer flying range and could even ferry dignitaries to nearby countries such as China.
“Since the Beechcraft Super King was not able to fly long range and it was also an older generation aircraft, the state government was compelled to hire private jets to fly the chief minister on long-distance journeys. Hiring a chartered aircraft costs around Rs 1 lakh per hour or even more,” the official said.