Scores of twitter posts are doing rounds with pictures of Narendra Modi and Gurmeet Ram Rahim coming out of a helicopter with messages suggesting that it is the same helicopter and it is owned by Adani. The two photographs circle “AW139” as proof that it is the same helicopter. The claim was also the subject of a now deleted article by Janata ka Reporter titled “Questions raised on rapist Gurmeet Singh allegedly using ‘Adani’s’ helicopter, also used by PM Modi.” Is there any truth behind these claims?

The claims have shared widely on social media and they assert that 1) The helicopter is owned by the Adani Group. 2) It is the same helicopter that was used by PM Modi

Is the helicopter owned by the Adani Group?

The DGCA list of non-scheduled air operator permits lists 10 AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. According to this list, the Adani group does not own an AW 139. Karnavati Aviation, the aviation company of the Adani group owns three aircrafts – Hawker 850XP, Bombardier CL 600-2B16 and Embraer Legacy 650. All three are executive jets, not helicopters.

A spokesperson of the Adani group confirmed to Boom fact check that the group “has never ever owned or leased any helicopter.” He also clarified that they had placed an order for an AgustaWestland helicopter a few years ago but later cancelled it.

Now that we know that the helicopter did not belong to the Adani Group, let us look at the second part of the claim.

Are the digits AW139 proof that it is the same helicopter?

To circle “AW139” as proof in the images by social media users doesn’t say much. AgustaWestland AW139 is the name of the helicopter model. It is not a unique registration number of the aircraft. To use a model number as proof is like circling “A 8” and claiming that it is the same Audi car without matching the number plate. To confirm whether it is the same aircraft, we need to match the aircraft registration number.

The aircraft registration number of the aircraft is not visible in this picture but in another picture by PTI, it shows it clearly as VT-TWO

A helicopter believed to be carrying Gurmeet Ram Rahim flies over Rohtak on Friday. (PTI)
A helicopter believed to be carrying Gurmeet Ram Rahim flies over Rohtak on Friday. (PTI)

How do we find out who owns VT-TWO? A database that lists all the AgustaWestland AW139 airframes in India shows it as owned by DLF. The same is also confirmed by the DGCA list

This screenshot from NS-OPER shows that DLF's helicopter has VT-TWO as its unique airplane registration number.
This screenshot from DGCA list shows that DLF’s helicopter has VT-TWO as its unique aircraft registration number.

As reported by India Today, “the authorities said the helicopter used for transporting Baba Ram Rahim was hired but did not specify from where.

Was it the same helicopter used by Narendra Modi

The helicopter used by Narendra Modi in his 2014 election campaign belonged to the DLF group. DLF owns one aircraft, an AgustaWestland AW139 with the aircraft registration number VT-TWO.

Looking at the PTI image with the aircraft registration number, we can say that the two pictures of the helicopters used by PM Modi and the Haryana government to ferry Gurmeet Singh are indeed of the same helicopter.

We presume the helicopter was chartered by the Haryana government from DLF. It is not unusual for companies to offer their aircrafts for charter flights when they are not being used by company executives. This helps them to cover the cost of maintaining the aircraft. Unless more facts emerge to the contrary, Alt News does not believe that the same aircraft being chartered by two parties can be the basis for any allegations of wrongdoing.