Govt eyes setting up 14 more water aerodromes for seaplane services

NEW DELHI: The government is looking to set up 14 more water aerodromes across the country after the successful launch of maiden seaplane service by Prime Minister Narendra Modi between the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya in Gujarat’s Narmada district and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.
These will facilitate seaplane services on various routes including Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.
“Development of 14 more water aerodromes is being planned pan India under RCS UDAN scheme. Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had requested Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to conduct a hydrographic survey and later on requested assistance in setting up jetties for facilitating the passenger movement,” a Shipping Ministry official said.
Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya last week told PTI that post the launch of seaplane service at Gujarat, regular services are being planned on various routes including in Guwahati, Andaman & Nicobar and Uttarakhand.
“The potential locations include Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand, Guwahati riverfront and Umrangso reservoir in Assam, Khindsi Dam and Erai Dam in Maharashtra, Prakasam barrage in Andhra Pradesh, Minicoy and Kavaratti in Lakshadweep, Havelock, Neil, Long and Hutbay islands in Andaman & Nicobar and Dharoi and Shatrunjaya in Gujarat,” according to a Shipping Ministry document.
IWAI has set up concrete jetties for the maiden seaplane project in Gujarat in record time, the official said and added IWAI has been entrusted for hydrographic survey, floating jetties and navigational buoys.
Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) had used differential global positioning system (DGPS) technology, essentially a system to provide provisional corrections to GPS signals to mark the runway and shallow water in Gujarat for landing of the seaplane in daylight visibility while provision has already been made over installed buoys for fixing automated navigation lights for operation during nights in future, the document mentioned.
For the maiden seaplane service no-frills carrier SpiceJet has chartered a seaplane from the Maldives, the official said and added that more such seaplanes will be hired once services start at other places.
These seaplanes will be Twin Otters.
“From the Maldives to the Canadian North, the Twin Otter has proven itself as the largest-selling 14-passenger commuter airplane in the world for over 40 years. Its an un-pressurized, all-metal, high-wing, twin-turboprop aircraft and is certified in the Normal Category by the Canadian Department of Transportation,” a Shipping Ministry document mentioned.
Prime Minister Modi on October 31 inaugurated India’s maiden seaplane service by boarding the twin-engine plane from pond-3 close to Sardar Sarovar Dam after taking part in the Ekta Diwas celebrations at the Statue of Unity on the occasion of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 145th birth anniversary.
The plane carrying Modi had landed on the waters of Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad in around 40 minutes after covering a distance of around 200 km.
Floating jetties and water aerodrome buildings were built at the riverfront and at pond-3 near Sardar Sarovar Dam to enable passengers to board and alight from the plane.
The service will be operated by SpiceJet’s fully-owned subsidiary, Spice Shuttle. Daily two flights will be operated on the Ahmedabad-Kevadiya route from Saturday, the company had said in a statement.
The Gujarat government in July this year had cleared a proposal to enter into a tri-party agreement with Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the construction of four water aerodromes under the regional connectivity scheme for seaplane service.
A water aerodrome or seaplane base is an area of open water used by seaplanes, float-planes and amphibious aircraft for landing and taking off. (agencies)