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Seaplanes to Bring Remotest Areas into Aviation Network

Seaplane on which Prime Minister Narendra Modi took flight from Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to the Dharoi Dam in Mehsana District to pray at nearby Ambaji Temple on 12 December 2017 is a single-engine powered fixed-wing aircraft that needs no runway, is capable of taking off and landing on water, having a capacity for 14 passengers, purported to be the first of its kind in India, brought to Gujarat ostensibly to promote tourism, will revolutionise transport sector of the country. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are in a subclass called amphibious aircraft.

  • Wright brothersOrvilleand Wilbur managed to take off from and land on the ground, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. Wright brothers were the first to invent Aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
  • Gabriel Voisin and Ernest Archdeacon built a Glider in 1905 that took off from the River Seine, but not on its own power: It had to be towed by a steamboat.
  • Henri Fabre had made the first successful seaplane flight at Martigues, near Marseilles, France on March 28, 1910. Fabre built a plane that could take off from water, fly successfully, and land on water.
  • India’s first Commercial Civil Aviation Flight on 18 February, 20111 covered a distance of 6 miles from Allahabad to Naini by French aviator Henri Pequest transported 6500 pieces of mail on a Humber biplane. This was also the world’s first official airmail service

According to Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation; his ministry and Civil Aviation ministry will frame rules for such form of transport on the lines of regulations in Canada, America and Japan.

  • India has over five lakh water bodies, out of which 111 rivers have been converted to inland waterways and will be used for transportation in the first phase.
  • Seaplanes could even land on one foot deep water body and is also cheaper as 12-seater such planes cost Rs 12-13 crore.
  • Seaplane operations can bring the remotest parts of India into the mainstream aviation network without the high cost of building airports and runways.
  • Seaplane does not require expenditure on creating infrastructure that traditional aircraft needs. It would be a very cheaper mode of transport.
  • India has a coastline running as long as 7,000km and looking at numerous destinations with numerous applications to enhance tourism in the country.
  • SpiceJet plans to buy more than 100 amphibian aircraft at an estimated cost of USD 400 million, had conducted the sea-plane trials at the Girgaum Chowpatty off the Mumbai coast on December 9, 2017, and may put these seaplanes into operations within one year.

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