Attention, we are about to land on the Brahmaputra
The dream of landing on the Brahmaputra here and at Umrangsu in Dima Hasao district of Assam in a seaplane has finally been made possible with the Centre selecting these two destinations in the Northeast.
The selections were made under the third round of Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme which was announced on Friday.
UDAN is under the regional connectivity scheme that aims at regional airport development with the objective of “let the common citizens of the country fly” by making air travel affordable and widespread, to boost inclusive national economic development.
The water aerodrome in Guwahati will be at Guwahati riverfront and at Umrangso reservoir in Umrangso.
A seaplane is a fixed-winged aeroplane designed to take off and land on water and includes amphibious aircraft operating as seaplanes.
According to the civil aviation ministry, the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA) has allowed flight operations through seaplanes from water aerodromes. An area of open water that can be used by seaplanes or amphibious planes for landing and take-off is called a water aerodrome. They might have connected terminal building on land where the pilot can choose to dock like a ship.
The DGCA says with the growth of the aviation industry, the country is expected to witness an increase in area of aircraft operations, including seaplanes, particularly due to regional connectivity scheme (RCS). This will also require operation of seaplanes from coastal/river/canal as well as terrestrial waterbodies.
In addition to aviation legislation, a seaplane in contact with water is subject to maritime regulations, including international regulations for the prevention of collision at sea and local bylaws.
SpiceJet Ltd has been selected as the operator for both the destinations.
According to aviation regulations, an aerodrome cannot be used for scheduled air transport services, among others, unless there is a licence.
According to the DGCA, 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.
According to the ministry of civil aviation, seaplanes’ operations with the following types shall be allowed under the scheme from select water aerodromes: category 1A — seaplanes with capacity of nine seats and category 1 — seaplane with capacity of nine to 20 seats.
The civil aviation ministry has included Calcutta-Shillong-Calcutta and Guwahati-Lilabari-Guwahati, Guwahati-Tezpur-Guwahati and Guwahati-Pasighat-Guwahati routes in the third round of UDAN scheme. These routes shall be made operational from April 1.
It said requests from state governments, including those in the northeastern region, would be considered to cover specific pre-determined routes under the special round of UDAN scheme which will help in connecting remote areas which have not been connected yet.