Mumbai: Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday dismissed reports of a malfunction in his helicopter after a TV channel aired a video showing the chopper touching down, then lifting off a bit before turning and making a safe landing.
“I got a lot of calls asking about my well being. I was surprised and asked my staff. Nothing untoward happened. The pilot just wanted to change the direction of the helicopter That is it,” he told a regional news channel.
Earlier reports suggested that the pilot of the helicopter carrying the chief minister had some trouble while landing on muddy ground in neighbouring Raigad district on Friday.
The incident, which was “not much serious”, took place at Pen Borgaon at 4.25 pm, said a local police official.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation also took note of the incident and launched a probe.
Mr Fadnavis was visiting the district for the Assembly election campaign.
A temporary helipad had been prepared for his visit by the Public Works Department, the police official said.
The aircraft was carrying Mr Fadnavis, his personal assistant, an engineer, co-pilot and pilot, he said.
Raigad superintendent of police Anil Paraskar said the incident was “normal”.
“As per the information provided by the pilot, there was no problem with the landing,” the superintendent of police said.
As there was rain some time before, the ground was muddy and tyres sank in the mud a bit, he said.
“Because of the rain, the helipad had become soggy and soft due to which the wheels of the aircraft sank two or three inches in the mud,” said a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The DGCA has launched a probe, and after getting a preliminary report, it will decide whether the incident was serious, he said.
State BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said there was no mishap.
Mr Fadnavis flew to Ulhasnagar for the next rally in the same helicopter, he said.
The Maharashtra chief minister has had a close shave on couple of occasions while flying in his official chopper in the past.
In January 2018, he and Union minister Nitin Gadkari had a near escape after the alert pilot of helicopter they were boarding spotted a hanging cable above helipad and landed the helicopter at a nearby safe place instead of the helipad.
The chief minister faced three incidents involving helicopters in 2017.
On May 25, 2017 at Latur, Mr Fadnavis' helicopter encountered cross winds and rotor blades brushed high-tension wires within minutes of taking off.
Less than two months later, on July 7, his helicopter suddenly tilted sideways even as he waited near its door. Security guards had to pull him back to safety.
In December 2017 at Nashik, his helicopter failed to take off properly and had to perform an emergency landing to off load a couple of his staff members.