Friday, May 28, 2010

INDIA'S FIRST SEAPLANE IN ANDAMAN ISLANDS

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Seaplane Service by October

 
Come October and Indians won’t need to go abroad to fly a seaplane — the ones that take off and land on water.

 

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For the first time in India's aviation history, seaplane operations are likely to begin in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in October this year, with the state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) planning to launch its services.
 
Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) along with the Andaman and Nicobar administration is getting the country’s first seaplane for island hopping by tourists in the breathtaking archipelago.
 
The two government bodies agreed, last week, to equally share the cost of this programme that will, to begin with, be launched as a pilot project for six months in October and then extended depending on the response.
 
"We plan to launch seaplane operations by October 15," PHHL CMD, R K Tyagi said at a seminar on helicopter operations at New Delhi last week, adding that the operations would be launched jointly by the public sector chopper firm and the island administration to operate sorties for tourists and inter-island movements.
 
The PHHL, which currently operates helicopter services in the group of islands, also plans similar services in Goa and Lakshadweep after the Andaman operations settle down.

 

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The chopper firm plans to wet-lease one amphibian seaplane, likely from a Mauritius-based company, for one year. The cost of the project, which is to be shared 50:50 with the A & N Administration, would be about Rs six to eight crores.
 
“We are going to issue a global tender to take a helicopter on wet lease (hired from a company that looks after its maintenance and provides the crew). Seaplanes are available in the range of eight to 18 seaters,” PHHL chief R K Tyagi said.
 
Operating the seaplane will cost about Rs 1 crore a month, including lease rental and operational expenses, that will be equally shared by the two government agencies.
 
The Andaman & Nicobar Administration has chosen some of the most beautiful islands for being linked by the seaplane with the capital Port Blair. These include Havelock (rated among the best beaches globally), Barren Island (an active volcano that most recently came to life five years ago), Neil Island and Diglipur (North Andaman).

 

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The local administration will provide the infrastructure like maintenance units and passenger jetties in different islands where the plane will fly. The aviation ministry has long been pushing for introduction of seaplanes in India.
 
One does get an impression that seaplanes have a huge potential in India that has a coastline of over 8,000 km and dotted by several beautiful islands. In fact, PHHL was asked to get the first seaplane on its own but given the expenses involved, the PSU was looking at getting partners.
 
To questions on PHHL's chopper operations in the islands; he said the Union Home Ministry subsidized helicopter operations in the islands in 90:10 ratio.
 
This enables a local inhabitant to pay only ten per cent of the price for inter-island transportation while a tourist pays 25 per cent of the cost.
 
The Tourism Department has signed a MoU with Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited to wet lease seaplanes for six months to operate on a trial basis. If it works well, it would come as an enchanting boon both for the tourists and the local people alike.
 
However, seaplanes are not very new for the people of these historic Indian coral islands. The Japanese occupation forces had used seaplanes in the Andamans for sometime during the Second World War, till the Allied Forces had introduced a full blockade of the islands. But those were only the seaplanes used for the purpose of warfare and not for any civilian use.

 

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News courtesy: The Economic Times ; Japanese Photo - www.ancestry.com


5 comments:

  1. Oh! Awesome to know! Would love to ride on one!

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  2. Your blog is cool. To gain more visitors to your blog submit your posts at indli.com

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  3. @talkreviews Thanks!
    @Indli Thanks for the praise and also the link. I would use it for sure. Cheers! :)

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  4. WOW!!

    I have always wanted to visit the andamans!
    Now i have even more reason!

    Great blog sir!

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  5. @k10 Yes, you do! Thank you so much! :)

    ReplyDelete