The Mumbai-based company, which owned the Beechcraft King C90 aircraft that crashed in Mumbai on Thursday, had spent close to Rs 8 crore to repair the 22-year-old plane after it had been purchased from the Uttar Pradesh government in 2015. The repairs included new spare parts and various maintenance requirements, said sources. Thursday’s sortie was the first test flight of the aircraft after a repair-and-maintenance period of nearly three years.
According to Captain Srikrishna Vinod , chief of flight safety at U Y Aviations, “The aircraft, that crashed was not a part of our inventory. It was supposed to get inducted only after the DGCA approved of it. Till the day of the crash, the aircraft was being maintained at the Indemar aviation MRO at Juhu.”
A senior U Y Aviation official also confirmed that the aircraft had suffered a minor accident between 2009-2010 in Uttar Pradesh. “In UP, the aircraft was used for official government purposes. It had suffered a minor accident in the state after which it was grounded for five years until 2015 before we purchased.”
According to Juhu airport sources, the plane with four on board, including a pilot, a co-pilot and two aircraft maintenance personnel from Indamer Aviation Ltd, had completed a 40-minute journey and was about to land when it crashed. Ten minutes before landing, the plane lost touch with the Airport Traffic Control (ATC) of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai.
While the pilot, P S Rajput, had joined the company three months ago, Marya was inducted in the company just in June. The aircraft maintenance engineer Surabhi Gupta and technician Manish Pandey were from Indamer Aviation private limited, which operated its Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) for flights from Juhu airport in Mumbai.
According to sources, the plane had completed preliminary tests inside the Juhu aerodrome. “Since 2015, the aircraft was under maintenance. The company had spent close to Rs 8 crore in maintaining and purchasing new parts for the aircraft. After completing some ground tests earlier, it was conducting its first flight today after maintenance,” a Juhu airport official said.
“This aircraft, at 22 years, was not that old. Usually, when an aircraft completes a major overhaul, it is fit to be used and runs like any new aircraft. So, spending Rs 8 crore on the maintenance of a plane should not be a huge sum,” said an aviation expert.
Estabilished in 2015-16, UY Aviation operates choppers, helicopters and air ambulances out of Mumbai. They own a fleet of four aircraft. In the past two years, it had undertaken charter operations for business professionals and was also used by the state government. For a minimum flight of two hours in and around Mumbai, they charge Rs 1 lakh.
UY Aviation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UY Industries Pvt Ltd, run by Deepak Kothari. In January, the aviation firm raised Rs 5 crore through private placement of shares to its parent. For fiscal 2017, the company made a loss of Rs 1.04 crore and has total liabilities of Rs 35.51 crore, according to the records with the Registrar of Companies. The company’s net cash flow from operating activities stood at Rs 1.80 crore for the same period.
With inputs from Khushboo Narayan