VVIP aircraft owned by Sri Lanka: Doubts fly high over overhaul

  • Questions over Lithuanian company’s qualifications
  • Process carried out two years ago says SLAF

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Questions have been raised over the handing over of two VVIP aircraft owned by Sri Lanka to a Lithuanian company for overhauling purposes.

As learnt by The Sunday Morning, the Lithuanian company had submitted the lowest bid under tender no. 18/ fr/m.17/10/1 to overhaul the two aircraft, SHM-4419 MI-174E and SMH-4429 MI-171E. The aircraft manufactured in Russia were purchased by Sri Lanka under a loan scheme in 2013. Fourteen such aircraft were purchased by Sri Lanka and the two aircraft handed over to Lithuania are of the 14 which were purchased in 2013.

It is reported that the Lithuanian company did not have a relevant quality certificate needed to overhaul aircraft. It is further learnt that the requirement of such a certificate has been removed during the tender process, even though it had initially been mentioned as a compulsory document.

However, when The Sunday Morning contacted Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Spokesman Group Capt. Dushan Wijesinghe, he said the decision had been taken by a Cabinet-Appointed Procurement Committee (CAPC) and the process had been carried out for nearly two years before it was finalised recently.

The two aircraft have already been handed over for the overhauling processes and the Lithuanian company had fulfilled all required quality assurances needed for overhauling processes, he said. When queried about the total cost of the bid, the SLAF Spokesman said the total amount was confidential, as it could affect future tender processes.