The Ministry of Defence has ordered the Air Force to ground the country`s only private helicopter after the owning company flew it with the United Nations logo and colours.
The suspension of licence came after the Deccan Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, which operated this Bell Jetranger under licence had chartered it to the UN office in Colombo to be flown with UN colours and logo.
Since this licence to operate the helicopter has been issued to DAL, a change in livery without Ministry of Defence approval was considered irregular, an Air Force official said. But, the change was carried out with the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Its Director General H.M.C. Nimalsiri said the UN had fulfilled licensing requirements and the CAA had approved the placing of the UN logo on the helicopter. He said the air force had grounded the helicopter after it had been in operation for three days with the UN logo.
Air Force spokesman Group Captain Ajantha Silva said the UN after chartering the helicopter had painted it a different colour and placed its logo. `We have no objections to this helicopter being used with the approved Deccan Airways logo and colours,` he said.
He said the United Nations flying this helicopter with its logo on it was a breach of protocol. If it wanted to fly such an aircraft it would have first had to apply for permission through the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Ministry would then have to request the sanction of the Ministry of Defence, he