Gujarat purchases aircraft worth Rs 191 crore for Chief Minister, VIP travel

NEW DELHI: The BJP government in Gujarat has finally purchased a new aircraft worth Rs 191 crore for use by Chief Minister (CM) Vijay Rupani and other dignitaries like Governor and deputy CM, formally wrapping up the delayed procurement process launched five years ago.

The swanky two-engine ‘Bombardier Challenger 650’ would be delivered in the next two weeks, officials said on Wednesday.

The new aircraft can carry 12 passengers and has a flying range of around 7,000 kilometres, much higher than the present ‘Beechcraft Super King’ aircraft that has been used to ferry the CM and other dignitaries since the last 20 years. It can fly with a speed of around 870 kilometres per hour.

“The Bombardier-make 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,” another official said.

Director of Civil Aviation, Gujarat, Captain Ajay Chauhan said it would take another two months before the new jet can become airborne, “as we need to take various approvals and clearances from the Customs, DGCA and other authorities.”

At present, the state government owns and operates Beechcraft Super King turboprop aircraft with the capacity to fly nine passengers in one sortie, an official said.

“The Beechcraft is the only aircraft currently available to ferry the CM and other dignitaries. It is in service since the last 20 years,” the official said.

He said the procurement process for a new aircraft started five years ago.

“Finally, we succeeded in acquiring a new aircraft in the third bid,” said the official.

He said the new aircraft has a longer flying range than the present one and can fly dignitaries to nearby countries like 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 take the CM on long-distance journeys. Hiring a chartered aircraft would cost around Rs 1 lakh per hour or even more,” the official said while explaining the rationale behind purchasing a new aircraft.

He said ‘Beechcraft Super King’ can actually ferry four to five passengers as additional fuel need 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. Due to these limitations, the ‘Beechcraft Super King’ would take around five hours to reach Guwahati from here (Ahmedabad),” he said, adding the new aircraft would take

Source: Press Trust of India

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