‘India's first seaplane service to begin 31 Oct’

Context

India's first seaplane service in Gujarat is set to begin from 31 October, the anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, with the aim of providing air connectivity from the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity in Kevadia. The service will be operated by Spicejet Airlines.

About

  • The Project
  • The first seaplane project of the country is part of a directive of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. 
    • As per the directive, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) requested state governments of Gujarat, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the administration of Andaman & Nicobar to propose potential locations for setting up water aerodromes to boost the tourism sector.
  • SpiceJet, which has reportedly signed a contracted with a French company that is manufacturing the seaplanes, will be using a 19-seater plane which will be able to carry 14 passengers.
  • For India's first project being developed in Gujarat, the Kevadia terminal is likely to be built over 0.51 acres in the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd premise in the Panchmuli lake area.
  • The Kevadia terminal is 200 kilometres away from Ahmedabad.
  • The terminal is proposed to have "modern amenities", and a daily footfall of 200 passengers is expected by the government.

Seaplanes operational in other countries

  • Seaplanes by multiple airline carriers are operational in countries like the Philippines, Canada, Australia, the United States, Finland, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Maldives and Hongkong.
  • In India, Jal Hans, a commercial seaplane service based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was launched as a pilot project on 30 December 2010 by the then Indian Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel with a capacity of 10 passengers.

What is a seaplane?

  • A seaplane is the amalgamation of the properties of speed and utility properties of an aeroplane and a boat, respectively.
  • With fixed wings, a seaplane is equipped to take off and land on water.
  • The two types of seaplane are
    • flying boats
    • floatplanes
  • The bottom of a flying boat’s fuselage is its main landing gear. This is usually supplemented with smaller floats near the wingtips, called wing or tip floats.
  • The hull of a flying boat holds the crew, passengers, and cargo; it has many features in common with the hull of a ship or a boat.

What impact will it have on the environment?

  • As seaplane operations are integrated with existing natural water bodies, ecological challenges come to the forefront.
  • The water aerodrome is not a listed project/activity in the Schedule to the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and its amendments.
  • However, the Expert Appraisal Committee was of the opinion that the activities proposed under the water aerodrome project may have a similar type of impact as that of an airport.
  • During seaplane operations, there will be turbulence created in the water while takeoff and landing of seaplanes.
  • This will lead to more operation process i.e. mixing of oxygen in the water. This will have a positive impact on the aquatic ecosystem near seaplane operations increasing oxygen content and decreasing carbon content in this system.

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