Saturday, November 15, 2014

Seaplane takes off from city, lands safely in Khindsi

Nagpur: The trial run to check the feasibility of flying an amphibian between Nagpur and Khindsi in Ramtek was held on Saturday. A Mumbai-based company Maritime Energy Heli Airservices (MEHR) has decided to operate the aircraft on the Nagpur-Khindsi-Nawegaon Khairi-Nagpur circuit.

Officials of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) were on the first flight to look at the route's safety aspect. The project is the brainchild of former Ramtek MLA Ashish Jaiswal.

The company is already operating seaplanes on Mumbai-Lonavla and Mumbai-Shirdi routes. The novel experience will, however, be quite costly. The first route costs Rs 4,500 and the second Rs 5,500. These do not include charges for other activities. MEHR is mainly targeting high-end Indian and international tourists who go to Kanha from Nagpur.

It has applied for Juhu-Girgaum route too but not much has happened after the trial run. It has plans for Goa and Gujarat too.

Siddharth Verma, promoter of MEHR, said that the sea plane ride will be a part of tourist package that will be operated in association with local tour operators. "The plane will take off from Nagpur airport and land in middle of Khindsi lake. Tourists will get down onto a floating dock and will be brought ashore by a speedboat. They will be taken to Gadmandir, Nagardhan fort, etc and then they will return to Khindsi.

"From Khindsi the plane will take off for Nawegaon-Khairi dam. We will arrange a boat safari of the dam and visits to Mansinghdeo Sanctuary and Pench National Park," he said.

Jaiswal accompanied by Ramtek MP Krupal Tumane told the media that the company presently had two aircraft Cessna 208 having a seating capacity of nine passengers and two pilots and a Cessna 204 with a passenger seating capacity of four. "Initially, they will launch operations with a nine-seater aircraft and if the response is good then a 19-seater plane would be used for the circuit," he said.

"The aircraft will fly at an altitude of between 2,500 and 4,000 feet and the flyers will get an excellent view of Nagpur city, the countryside and the dams. I have flown on Mumbai-Lonavla route and the view of the metropolis was very exciting," added Jaiswal.

The total flight timing of the circuit will be 20 minutes. "It takes 30 minutes to go to Lonavla and 50 minutes to Gangapur dam near Shirdi. Here the route shorter and hence the fares will be lower," Jaiswal said.

Verma was thankful to ex-MLA Ashish Jaiswal for his initiative. "We had applied for Juhu-Girgaum route but after the trial run it is stuck up. However, Jaiswal has been pursuing our case since months. We needed three to four months for getting a trial permission on other routes. Here it took less than a month," he said.

The MEHR chief said that he was aware that paying capacity of Nagpurians was low as compared to Mumbaites. "We have not decided the charges and they will be fixed with in consultation with local tour operators. The inaugural prices will be kept low," he said.


* Amphibious sea plane will operate on Nagpur-Khindsi-Nawegaon Khairi-Nagpur route

* It will be part of a tour package that will Ramtek, Nagardhan fort, Mansinghdeo sanctuary, Kunwara Bhivsan, water sports, etc.

* The plane will take off from Nagpur airport and land in middle of the two reservoirs

* Floating docks have been created. Tourists will be brought ashore by speed boats

* Operations are expected to start by mid-January after DGCA gives the final clearance

* The charges are yet to decided and will be done in consultation with local tour operators

* The company MEHR is targeting high end tourists who go to Kanha and Nagpurians, who have the capacity to spend a lot

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