'Mystery' chopper was on recce for film shoot

Setting to rest suspicions bred by the landing of an unidentified helicopter, investigations reveal that it was an 'emergency landing' by a film unit scouting for shooting locales

It has come to light that the mysterious helicopter, which hovered around coastal Ratnagiri, and landed briefly near a beach in Dapoli, was a BR-350 single engine chopper registered with a Mumbai-based aviation company, Global Vectra Helicorp. It was traced by security and aviation agencies yesterday, after its unscheduled touch down created considerable panic among villagers and security officials about its origins.

No, it's not a bird: Locals raised alarms bells when they noticed the
chopper hovering above them, and contacted the authorities.

The helicopter was hired by a leading production company from Mumbai looking for ideal locations for their upcoming film. The chopper had taken off from Belgaum in Karnataka on Friday afternoon for Juhu, Mumbai, but had to land in Dapoli because the crew did not want risk flying in bad weather after they reportedly lost contact with ground control momentarily, primary investigations revealed. Subsequently, they flew back to Belgaum.

"After flying from the airspace of Air-Traffic Control (ATC), Goa, the chopper tried to contact Mumbai ATC, but did not get any response. It tried calling ATC Goa but could not get through to them either. Finally, it decided to land as the weather was bad, and with no official communication with the ATCs, it could have got into trouble," said an official from DGCA.

Locals panicked
The landing on Saturday afternoon had triggered panic among villagers and security agencies. A few locals got suspicious after they noticed the movement of the chopper and informed the local administration. When the administration started pursuing the matter, the chopper had left for Belgaum, which further augmented the doubts.

"The film production unit took the chopper, fitted with a hi-tech camera used for photography, on October 6 to Indore.

All permissions had been taken from both state and Union home ministry for photography of places," said an official from the aerodrome in Juhu. 

The chopper reached Mumbai on Saturday evening after which the agencies recorded the statements of the pilot and passengers. When contacted, officials of Global Vectra Helicorp, refused to comment on the incident. 
Additional Commissioner of Police Western Region, VN Patil, echoed the version of the DGCA.

"In the prima-facie investigations, no foul play is suspected. We have recorded the pilot's version of events. However, investigations will still continue," said Patil.

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