New Delhi: After the grounding of its 'Dhruv' helicopter fleet recently, the BSF has approached the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for determining the airworthiness of these choppers for future operations, including in the Maoist corridor.
   
"Our experience with ALH Dhruv has been mixed till now. We are, therefore, asking the DGCA to check that machine and let us know if we can go ahead in operating it. DGCA will be our philosopher and advisor on this matter and we will act accordingly," BSF Director General U K Bansal said.
   
The BSF's Dhruv fleet was grounded on instructions of Home Minister P Chidambaram after two crashes recently.
   
The BSF had acquired a total of seven Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) 'Dhruvs', and these choppers play a crucial role in assisting the paramilitary and state police forces deployed for anti-naxal operations, along with the IAF's Mi-17 fleet.
   
"We have acquired seven Dhruv helicopters. Two have unfortunately crashed, some of them are in long-term servicing and by the time service is over we expect the certification from the DGCA regarding the machine per se," the Border Security Force chief said.
   
Talking about expansion plans of the BSF air wing, Bansal said the Home Ministry is planning to induct new planes like the Hercules for ferrying troops of central paramilitary forces and rushing reinforcements.

"We are in the process of acquiring more air assets. We are also in the process of creating facilities for maintenance and repair. We are creating infrastructure for opening our posts at various locations from where we will fly these aircrafts. We are also in the process of identifying and hiring more pilots," the BSF chief said.
   
Bansal said the Home Ministry, for selecting the best machines, is taking the expertise of the Indian Air Force and the DGCA.
   
"We are taking the help of DGCA and IAF in identifying right type of aircraft. From the point of view of operations, serviceability, spare parts and repairs. so many factors go into it," he said.
   
Out of the total nine helicopters deployed for anti-naxal operations by the BSF, four IAF Mi-17 choppers are located in Chhattisgarh, two each at Raipur and Jagdalpur while among five 'Dhruvs', three are at Raipur and two at Ranchi in Jharkhand.

(Agencies)