Thursday, November 05, 2020

Three days after launch, seaplane service suspended for ‘routine maintenance’

Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad Three days after beginning commercial operations, the seaplane service between Statue of Unity and Ahmedabad was suspended on Wednesday for a “routine maintenance” of the aircraft.

SpiceJet has wet-leased a 18-seater Twin Otter 300 seaplane from Maldivian Aero, the national airline of Maldives. A wet lease is an agreement between two airlines, where the lessor agrees to provide an aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance to the lessee.

“The aircraft will undergo routine maintenance for two days. There will be no seaplane operations on Wednesday and Thursday,” said an official of SpiceJet who did not wish to be identified. The aircraft is expected to be back in operation on November 6.

The aircraft, which is being operated by Maldivian crew, can accomodate two pilots, one attendant and 15 passengers. It took off from Male, Maldives, before October 25 and landed on Ahmedabad on October 27, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the seaplane service on October 31. The seaplane is 49 years old. As part of the lease agreement, “one set of crew and engineers with back up” have come with the seaplane.

“It has been flying continously for the past one week and hence some maintainance was needed,” the official added. SpiceJet has planned four flights on the route between Sabarmati Riverfront and Statue of Unity. However, only two flights were being operated daily (11 am and 2.30 pm) from the riverfront since November 1.

“The Twin Otter 300 is a small turboprop aircraft. These aircraft need more maintenance than bigger jets. Since the operations have just begun, maintenance is being done during the daytime… The aircraft is fitted with remarkably efficient Twin Turboprop Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 engines, known for their reliability. The aircraft has an incredible accident-free history,” SpiceJet stated in response to a questionnaire mailed to them regarding the aircraft’s maintainance.

“The seaplane chosen by SpiceJet is one of the safest and most widely used aircraft the world over and in Maldives. The aircraft has been serviced at regular intervals and is in top class condition,” the airline stated.

05/11/20  Avinash Nair/Indian Express

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