Friday, March 02, 2018

Air Odisha suspends flights from Ahmedabad to Diu, Jamnagar following engine troubles

Barely two days after it was inaugurated by the prime minister, the Air Odisha flight connecting Ahmedabad and Diu was grounded following a technical issue with the engine of the 18-year-old Beechcraft 1900D. The airline had started services from Ahmedabad to Jamnagar, Mundra and Diu last month under the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
The Ahmedabad-Diu service was the last to be launched on February 24. On February 25, Mirror had reported that the airline may be compelled to suspend the operations if there is a problem with the engine as the aircraft is no longer in production. So, procuring spare parts would take time. Following the technical issue, the airline temporarily used a single engine 8-seater Cessna B208 on the three routes from February 26 to 28, said sources.
However, even this is not possible anymore due to runway resurfacing work at Ahmedabad airport. It was announced in November that the runway will be closed from March 1 to April 15, between 10 am and 7 pm. Still, Air Odisha went ahead and launched its intrastate flight operations in February without proper planning. Even the launch plans were met with hurdles as they first planned to start the service in January which then got postponed to February.
Aviation experts had then raised concerns about the operation and maintenance of the 18-seater twin-engine Beechcraft 1900D, the production of which was discontinued 17 years ago.
Accountable Manager of Air Odisha Santosh Pani told Mirror, “There was an issue with the engine and we have got a replacement. The aircraft will be operational by early next week.” He further added that, “However, we will not be able to operate on the Ahmedabad-Diu and Ahmedabad-Jamnagar routes because of runway closure at Ahmedabad airport.” Several other airlines have cancelled their day flights due to the work on the runway. However, Air Odisha will be able to operate its Ahmedabad-Mundra-Ahmedabad flight as it departs at 8 am and returns by 10 am, before work on the runway begins. Pani told Mirror, “As there is no night landing facility at Diu and Jamnagar airports, we will not be able to operate flights on these routes until the runway resurfacing work at Ahmedabad airport is over.”
02/03/18 Alok Brahmbhatt/Ahmedabad Mirror