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Gujarat: Seaplane services suspended for maintenance, second in a month

The service, run by the SpiceJet under the banner of Spice Shuttle, will be resumed after the seaplane returns to India by December 15, officials said.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | November 29, 2020 12:22:55 am
Gujarat Seaplane services, Seaplane services suspended for maintenance, Ahmedabad news, Gujarat news, Indian express newsThe seaplane service between the Statue of Unity at Kevadia and Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31. (File)The seaplane service between the Statue of Unity at Kevadia and Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31. (File)

The seaplane service between the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Narmada district and Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad has been suspended for 15 days after the Twin Otter 300 aircraft flew to its home country, Maldives, for a maintenance schedule on Saturday. The service, run by the SpiceJet under the banner of Spice Shuttle, will be resumed after the seaplane returns to India by December 15, officials said.

On Saturday, the seaplane took off for Male in the Maldives, where it is set to undergo “major maintenance” at a hanger in an aerodrome facility, Gujarat government officials said.

This is the second time since its inauguration on October 31 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the seaplane service has been suspended for maintenance. The first “routine maintenance” of the aircraft was carried out three days after its inauguration when the services were suspended for two days.

Captain Ajay Chauhan, the Director of Civil Aviation, Government of Gujarat, told The Sunday Express the seaplane had to be sent to the Maldives as it is registered in that country and because India does not yet have a hangar facility for maintenance of seaplanes.

“The seaplane has to mandatorily undergo maintenance at various levels, depending on its flying hours and distance covered. This is a major maintenance and occurs after every stipulated flying hours. Since its arrival, the seaplane has flown for a significant number of hours, including its journey to reach India,” Chauhan said.

He added this kind of major maintenance needed to be carried out in a hangar “but we do not have a hangar for seaplanes right now in India. The seaplanes cannot land on runways meant for regular flights, so it cannot be taken to the Ahmedabad airport for maintenance”.

Chauhan said the seaplane service would commence immediately after the plane returned to India by December 15. “Currently, the SpiceJet has wet-leased the 19-seater Twin Otter 300 seaplane from Maldivian Aero. Under the agreement, the Maldives provides SpiceJet with the entire service, insurance, operations and maintenance as well as crew in lieu of a fee. Carrying out maintenance of a flight also has to adhere to some guidelines of the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) but for that, the aircraft has to be registered in India, which is not the case with this seaplane,” he said.

An executive of the SpiceJet said such routine maintenance was necessary for the “smooth functioning” of the seaplane services and a hangar to carry out maintenance of the seaplane would soon be ready in Ahmedabad.

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