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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fire at Begumpet; CM's helicopter and more planes gutted

Begumpet, in Hyderabad is in news for wrong reason. This airport was established in 1930s and was used by the Nizam of Hyderabad.  Begumpet Airport, now is home to the Andhra Pradesh Aviation Academy.  Begumpet used to be International and Domestic airport of Hyderabad as well as the only international airport in Andhra Pradesh, until the opening of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport on the 23rd March 2008 after which Begumpet ceased all commercial civil operations. The last commercial flight to take off was Thai Airways International flight TG 330 to Bangkok on 22 March 2008.

Names and terminology can be confusing.  In mid 1980s Hashan Tilakaratne played against us, now it is Tilakaratne Dilshan; there was Malinga Bandara and Lasith Malinga;  Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslo Mendis, the mystery spinner (Ajantha Mendis) and  Balapuwaduge Manukulasuriya Amith Jeevan Mendis (Jeevan Mendis) – more confusing are the West Indians : you had Ricardo Powell; Darren Powell and present Kieron Powell;  you have Darren Sammy; also Kieron Pollard; you have Kirk Edwards and Fidel Edwards; Darren Bravo and Dwayne Bravo; Dwayne Smith …… - it is a bit tough remembering who is what ? pace bowler; spinner; allrounder; left hander; right hander…… !

Marine Insurance encompasses coverage to cargo in transit.  It also covers Hull – the superstructure of vessels on water – the big mighty ship to the small catamarans including sailing vessels and fishing vessels.  Hull is a term used to describe the ‘aircraft too’.

Perhaps the most sophisticated the costliest of them all - Aviation insurance is insurance coverage geared specifically to the operation of aircraft and the risks involved in aviation.  It encompasses form of property insurance - loss of value and loss of use of aircraft ; liabilities; spares; crew members; passengers and more.  Aviation hull insurance may be written to guard against specified or named perils or, more typically, to guard against "all risks”.  It can extend to cover pecuniary losses arising out of loss of license of operating crew as well.  

There are reports of a major fire at Begumpet airport on 17th Dec 12, in which Andhra Chief Minister's helicopter is reportedly gutted.  Reports suggest  that the official helicopter of the Andhra Pradesh chief minister and six Cessna trainer aircraft belonging to the state aviation academy were gutted when a major fire broke out at the hangar of the old airport in Begumpet, Hyderabad, on Monday night.  While the official helicopter, Agusta Westland AW139, caught fire in hangar no. 3, six aircraft were gutted in an adjacent hangar. According to preliminary inquiries by the Hyderabad Police, the mishap might have occurred because of a short circuit.

Photo courtesy –

Chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has ordered a CID inquiry into the destruction of the official chopper. CID officials, assisted by the Clues team of the Hyderabad Police, began the probe by gathering evidences from the accident spot.  The fire is reported to have broken  out around midnight on Monday and spread across the entire area. As many as 10 fire tenders, including five from the Begumpet airport and the remaining from Hakeepet Air Force station, were rushed to the spot. It took them over four hours to bring the blaze under control.

Reports state that the Agusta chopper costing more than 60 crores was reduced to ashes and is reportedly covered under an insurance policy held by the State.  The chopper, apart from taking the CM on official visits, was also used by top officials such as the director general of police and the chief secretary to conduct aerial surveys during anti-Maoist operations and floods.  The hangars also stored a huge quantity of spare parts. The overall loss is feared to be more than 150 crores at a very conservative estimate.

The  residents of the nearby areas had some tense moments as they heard a series of explosions. The fire erupted reportedly after three explosions, resulting in huge flames. The blaze engulfed the hangar, causing the complete collapse of the shed. The aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in the aircraft had further fuelled the fire, making it difficult for the fire-fighters to control the flames.

File photo of a helicopter of Agustawestland

AgustaWestland NV is an Anglo-Italian multinational helicopter design and manufacturing company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica, formed in July 2000 when Finmeccanica and GKN merged their respective helicopter subsidiaries (Agusta and Westland Helicopters) to form AgustaWestland.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
19th Dec 2012.

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