Kohima: As the Nagaland government and Thumby Aviation Pvt Ltd under the Ministry of Home Affairs inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the operation of helicopters in the state on Wednesday, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio mulled utilising the chopper services during the annual mega Hornbill Festival which is held in the state between December 1-10.
The MoU was inked for a period of 4 years with an annual ceiling of 1,200 flying hours. At the event, Rio noted that travelling by chopper was a cheaper means of transport and urged the aviation company to ensure regular distribution of schedules. He suggested that the chopper services be available especially during the Hornbill Festival, and also to enable tourists to visit the famed Dzukou valley.
Rio hoped that chopper services would be available on a regular basis to cater to the needs and welfare of the people, especially the sick and the elderly. He also urged the need to have helicopter services for VVIP visiting the state and also for the movement of VIP/officials visiting far-flung areas of Nagaland.
Rio expressed optimism about the company’s ability to provide services to the people of Nagaland for 4 more years, following the signing of the MOU with the government.
Nagaland State Transport GM Shikaho P Yepthomi, while highlighting the operation of Helicopter services in the state, informed that the chopper service was introduced way back in 1988 but was discontinued due to an unfortunate crash in February that year. Yepthomi further informed that helicopter services were re-introduced again in 2007 under the present chief minister.
Owing to high public demand, the state government has, with the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs, increased flying hours from 480-600 per year, Yepthomi said.
Captain KNG Nair, CMD of Thumby Aviation, informed that the company will be operating 2 Bell 412 helicopters in Nagaland and that a chopper A 109 will be on standby.
Each chopper has seating capacity for 13 passengers and 2 pilots and can carry 400 pounds of cargo, Nair informed.
The aviation company has been operating in Nagaland with one helicopter since 2010 on a 2-year-long contract basis. Now it has extended its contract by 4 more years.
Advisor Transport, Government of Nagaland, Temjenmemba, Airport Director Geetha Sahu, OSD Transport and Aviation, Ababe Ezung, officials from NST Department, and others attended the flagging-off ceremony.