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Seaplane completes first trial run in Mumbai; operations likely to begin in a year

This was the first time in India that a seaplane landed on water.

mumbai Updated: Dec 10, 2017 01:18 IST
Neha L M Tripathy
Neha L M Tripathy
Hindustan Times
mumbai,seaplane,spice jet
A seaplane prepares to touch down at Girgaum Chowpatty on Saturday(Pratik Chorge)

Budget carrier SpiceJet conducted the trial of a 10-seater seaplane on Saturday. This was the first time in India that a seaplane landed on water. After being delayed by more than one-and-a-half hours owing to low visibility, the amphibious aircraft landed at Girgaum Chowpatty at 3.10pm. The airlines aims to buy five 10-seater seaplanes and begin commercial operations within a year.

Sources said that Japan’s Setouchi Holdings will deliver the first batch of aircraft in next six months. With civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari on board, the aircraft took seven minutes to reach Girgaum from the Mumbai airport.

SpiceJet wants to operate 100 such aircraft with 5, 15 and 20 seats. The seaplane can fly a maximum of 1,600km at a stretch and clock speed up to 350 kmph. It requires a 300-metre airstrip to land which makes it easy to reach out to difficult, remote areas and provide them with air connectivity.

Sources said that the 10-seater aircraft costs around $4 million. “The formation of air routes takes three to six months. We are considering route suggestions from chief ministers,” said Ajay Singh, CMD of SpiceJet.

Though the airline has not disclosed potential routes, it said the seaplane will also be used for offshore oil rigs and emergencies. Officials said the airline wanted to focus on remote areas.

Kazuyuki Okada, president and CEO, Setouchi Holdings, said, “Kodiaks are the perfect flying machines to effectively connect remote cities.” Vipul Saxena, an expert, termed the entry of amphibian aircraft revolutionary. He cautioned the authorities to put in place a robust management system for safety of fliers.

First Published: Dec 10, 2017 01:00 IST