Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leased Polish helicopters do not meet safety standards

Last week, a Polish helicopter rented by the Health Ministry crashed near Bolu after taking off from Istanbul, killing the two pilots on board, but the tragic accident is unlikely to be the last, according to Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) Adana deputy Kursat Atilgan.

Atilgan, who served as a pilot and an aerial fleet commander in the Turkish Air Force for many years, claimed that the health and forestry ministries' helicopter and plane tenders were prone to corruption and that the helicopters leased rarely meet international flight safety regulations and standards.

Stating that helicopters leased by the Health Ministry from Poland for use in aerial ambulance services were not rented at a reasonable price even though they were claimed to be so, Atilgan said the 12 firefighting helicopters leased by the Environment and Forestry Ministry failed to meet the Transportation Ministry's requirement that such aircraft should not be more than 10 years old.

Atilgan also holds that an investigation should be launched into the lease tenders considering that the helicopters leased by both ministries were the same brand. Atilgan believes that the mistake made in these transactions is an irregularity rather than corruption. Emphasizing that it was a mistake for the ministries to negotiate these deals despite having no knowledge of aviation, Atilgan notes that the tenders and subsequent deals should be concluded by experts and competent commissions.