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Kiran to take final call on new aircraft

M. Malleswara Rao

HYDERABAD: Four aircraft manufacturers -- Cessna, Avanti, Gulf Air and Embraer -- have been identified by the Andhra Pradesh Aviation Corporation as probable sources for purchase of a 20-seater aircraft for use by the Chief Minister.

Officials impressed upon Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy the need to acquire an all-weather plane during a review of the functioning of the activities of Infrastructure & Investment Department on Tuesday.

Highlighting the limitations of Agusta Westland helicopter being used by him now, they contended that he was forced to halt at two places at least if he was to visit a far-flung place in the State from Hyderabad and that the choppers in general were slow. The travel plan would have to be abandoned if there was heavy rain.

The Chief Minister told them he would examine the proposal and take a final decision soon. Even through competitive bidding, purchase of the mini-plane from any of the manufacturing companies could cost over Rs. 100 crore.

The US-made Bell 430 chopper, which crashed in Nallamala forests, killing former Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, cost the ex-chequer Rs. 40 crore and Agusta Westland bought from Italy-based Finmeccanica Rs. 65 crore.

The plane would ensure a fast journey and accommodate an entourage comprising Ministers and officials .

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