Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on August 11, 2018 approved a proposal for setting up water aerodromes in the country.
The approval comes after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued regulations in June 2018, prescribing procedures and requirement for licensing of water aerodromes.
What is a water aerodrome?
A water aerodrome is an area of open water that can be used by seaplanes or amphibious planes for landing and taking-off.
Water Aerodrome may have connected terminal building on land where the plane can choose to dock like a ship.
As per the aviation regulations, an aerodrome cannot be used for scheduled air transport services unless there is a license.
Key guidelines for development of water aerodrome
• Under the proposal, water aerodrome would be set up near locations of tourist and religious importance.
• 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.
• Initially, a provisional license shall be issued for a period of six months during which, the implementation of the water aerodrome operation will be monitored.
• The regular license will be accorded post implementation monitoring period and completion of corrective action.
• A water aerodrome license would be valid for two years.
• The formal application for setting up a water aerodrome needs to be submitted at least 90 days before the date of intended operations.
The Airports Authority of India has already identified the sites in Odisha, Gujarat, Assam, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh where water aerodrome would be developed.
The Chilika Lake in Odisha; Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Dam and Sabarmati River Front have been identified for development of water aerodromes in the first phase.
The development of water aerodromes would pave the way for operation of amphibian planes, both on land and water, to enhance air connectivity. As there is no historical data on the market and demand from any airlines, the project will be done as a pilot project.
In October 2017, SpiceJet had unveiled its plans to buy over 100 amphibian planes, estimated to cost USD 400 million.
The airline had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan's Setouchi Holdings to explore whether the amphibian planes can be used by the airline in a cost-effective manner. It has already approached the Odisha government to operate amphibian planes from the Chilika Lake.
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