NEW DELHI: India has simplified the process of getting new types of aircraft as it opens its skies to flying machines not seen here commonly earlier like seaplanes and four-seater planes.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has removed the requirement of giving type acceptance of aircraft for short term wet leasing (hiring with operating crew) of aircraft in a bid to improve the ease of doing business in this crippled by Covid sector.
“Wet leasing of foreign aircraft under any exigency is permitted for a limited period of three months, which is extendable for another three months. Type acceptance of an aircraft type was mandatory for import and registration of aircraft in India, (including) for short term leasing of foreign aircraft by Indian operators. This requirement has been removed,” a senior DGCA official said.
Under the subsidised regional connectivity scheme, India is opening up new routes that will require small aircraft, seaplanes and choppers. The change, brought about by amending the civil aviation requirement for “criteria for leasing of aircraft by Indian operators,” is aimed at simplifying leasing of those types of planes not seen here earlier or commonly.
The amendment does not change the maximum age requirement of 18 and 25 years for aircraft being brought in for passenger transportation and cargo operations, respectively.
“Wet, damp or dry lease is only permitted in emergency situations by DGCA. Situations cover unexpected grounding of aircraft of an existing (airline, charter operator), aircraft under unscheduled maintenance or checks or any other unforeseen circumstances. Such leases are not permitted for capacity or route expansion of an air transport (passenger) service except for cargo operations,” the amended rule says.
However, the DGCA can give exemption from the maximum age condition for bringing in aircraft. Fo instance, SpiceJet wet-leased an almost 50-year-old 15-seater DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplane from Maldivian Aero, the country’s national airline, last October for operating between Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati riverfront and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Stature of Unity in Kevadia.
Following PM Modi’s direction, Airports Authority of India is developing water ports. The Centre had last year approved subsidised flights from six water airports that include Guwahati riverfront, Nagarjuna Sagar, Shatrunjay Dam and Umrangso reservoir under the third round of ude desh ka aam nagrik (Udan) scheme.
The first to take off will be the seaplane service between Ahmedabad Sabarmati riverfront and the State of Unity.
The routes awarded for seaplane operations include Sabarmati riverfront to Stature of Unity and Shatrunjay Dam; Guwahati riverfront to Umrango reservoir, Jorhat and Shillong and Nagarjuna Sagar to Vijaywada and Hyderabad.
In August-end, the aviation ministry had approved 78 new routes under the fourth round of UDAN which could see Kavaratti water aerodrome in Lakshadweep also getting flights. Agatti, Kavaratti and Minicoy islands of Lakshadweep have also been connected by the new routes of UDAN 4.