New Delhi :
The Modi government has given in-principle approval to set up “water aerodromes” in different parts of the country, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said.
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 move, Prabhu said, was aimed at boosting tourism and connecting places of religious importance throughout the country. The government has identified five states – Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam – for this project. Chilka Lake in Odisha, Sabarmati River Front and Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat will get waterdromes in the first phase.
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.
Several Indian players, including SpiceJet and state-run Pawan Hans, have unveiled plans to buy seaplanes to capture the market. To make seaplanes, Mahindra Aerospace has tied up with Canada’s Viking Air. SpiceJet, which plans to operate a mix of 100 small amphibian and non-amphibian aircraft, has reached an understanding with a Japanese firm Setouchi Holdings.
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.