Wednesday, December 13, 2017

PM Modi’s seaplane journey breached VVIP safety norms

Mumbai/New Delhi: PM Narendra Modi might have flown VVIP flights around the world in in his forty two month long tenure, but the thirty-minute flight that he took on Monday to travel 180 km from the Sabarmati river to Dharoi dam in Mehsana will go down in the annals of VVIP flying for a number of firsts. With it, Modi became the first incumbent Indian PM to be flown by foreign pilots onboard an Americanregistered aircraft.
The use of the Kodiak 100 seaplane+ by PM raises a serious safety issue. It is a single engine aircraft, which means that its chances of recovery are slim in event of an engine failure or say, a nasty bird hit.
Sources said that the security concern was raised with PM but he overrode them.
Sources in the security establishment said that SPG which oversees PM's security came around after considering it was a controlled flight and the seaplne was flying at a low altitude with a pilot who had more than 30 years of flying experience in the cockpit.
DGCA air safety circular 2 of 1981 lays down the norms for carriage of VVIPs and the first rule, 1.1 states that "twin-engined aircraft with good operational capability, reliability and easy maintainability characteristics should be used''. When on official trips, PM travels by either IAF or AI plane. The requirement that he takes a twin-engine plane holds even when PM is travelling for nonofficial reasons. Said an aircraft charter operator-,"Though PM Modi was attending a function on behalf of his political party and hadn't boarded the seaplane on official tour as the PM of the country, the norm of using twin-engine aircraft stays.''
13/12/17 Dipak K Dash and Manju V/Times of India