Seaplanes load and unload passengers at the airport island of Hulhule in the Maldives. (Photographer: Daniel J. Groshong/Bloomberg News)

Water Aerodrome Proposal Gets Civil Aviation Ministry Nod

The Civil Aviation Ministry has approved a proposal for setting up water aerodromes in the country, an official said today. The Chilika Lake in Odisha, Sardar Sarovar Dam and Sabarmati Riverfront in Gujarat have been identified as sites in the first phase for development of such facilities.

The proposal was cleared by Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu yesterday.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued regulations in June this year, prescribing procedures and requirements for licencing of water aerodromes.

Since there is no historical data on the market and demand from any airlines, the project will be implemented as a pilot project, the ministry official said. The development would pave the way for operation of amphibian planes (both in land and water) to enhance air connectivity.

Under the proposal, water aerodromes would be set up near locations of tourist and religious importance.

The Airports Authority of India has also identified sites in Odisha, Assam, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh where water aerodromes would be developed.

Earlier, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey said that his ministry was also considering a proposal to look at seaplane operation under phase III of the regional connectivity scheme UDAN.

According to the DGCA, an entity seeking to set up a water aerodrome has to take approvals from various authorities, including the ministries of defence, home, environment and forests, and shipping. A water aerodrome licence would be valid for two years.

“Initially, a provisional licence shall be issued for a period of six months during which implementation of the water aerodrome operation is monitored...Regular licence shall be accorded after post implementation monitoring period and completion of corrective action,” the DGCA said.

The formal application for setting up a water aerodrome has to be submitted at least 90 days before the date of intended operations. Under the aviation regulations, an aerodrome cannot be used for scheduled air transport services, among others, unless there is a licence.

Generally, seaplanes are described as fixed-wing aircraft that is designed for taking off and landing on water.

In October last year, no-frills carrier SpiceJet had unveiled plans to buy over 100 amphibian planes, estimated to cost $400 million.

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