Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ahmedabad- Diu flight: Aviation experts concerned over maintenance of 18 year old aircraft

Air Odisha’s flight connecting Ahmedabad with the touristy town of Diu, a goto place for Amdavadis when public holidays lead to extended weekends, was inaugurated on Saturday. Just 65 minutes of air travel for a fare of Rs 2,050 would now take you to Diu which otherwise takes seven hours of road journey. Sounds good so far. But aviation experts are concerned about the operation and maintenance of the 18-seater twin-engine Beechcraft 1900D, the production of which was discontinued 17 years ago.

This particular aircraft, operated by Air Odisha on the Ahmedabad- Diu route, is in service since year 2000. Experts say the maintenance of the aircraft, which is already 18 years old, is going to be difficult if a sensor or an engine part requires replacement. Shaishav Shah, director, GSEC, the strategic partner to Air Odisha and Air Deccan said, “The same model of aircraft is used world over as air taxi.

We wanted an aircraft with a smaller seating capacity as it is our first flight. “Our flight to Mundra was fully booked and we got over 50 per cent passengers for Jamnagar route. Our first flight to and fro Diu is also packed and we may upgrade the aircraft. As of now, the manufacturing company has promised us they will supply any spare part that is required.”

Other major operators use Q-400 72 seat aircraft by Bombardier and the 42-seat ATR aircraft for their short distance flights under UDAN scheme. “If the Beechcraft 1900D goes under maintenance or develops a technical snag, it may take considerable time to import a specific part or sensor. This means operations to all routes will be suspended till the aircraft is back in service,” said an official involved in aircraft operation and maintenance.

Beechcraft stopped manufacturing the 1900D model in year 2001, said a top official associated with the flight operations. “Aircraft maintenance will be difficult if a sensor or an engine part needs replacement as it is not easy to procure these,” he said. Efforts in Past Interestingly, efforts to start an intrastate airline in Gujarat were made thrice in the past but each time it failed.

In 2014, the service was scrapped after the operator failed to pay the staff as it had not received deposits from the state government. PM Narendra Modi launched heli service from Daman to Diu and the flight from Diu to Ahmedabad on Saturday. Addressing a large gathering PM said, “Daman and Diu will get a major tourism boost with the launch of the helicopter and flight services.” He further added, “Tourists visiting Daman from Maharastra and South Gujarat will now be able to fly to Diu and further travel to Gir and Somnath.

Along with leisure tourism, religious tourism will also get a boost.” The maiden flight from Diu to Ahmedabad reached with a few passengers and several guests on board. In the coming days, the airline faces yet another challenge as it will be operating on three routes, Ahmedabad to Jamnagar, Mundra and Diu starting from Monday. “Before adding a sector to our operation, we will have to work out flight timings to ensure we do not discontinue any of the routes. This, because Ahmedabad airport runway will not be operational from March 1 to April 15 between 10am and 7pm as resurfacing work will begin,” said Shah.

Original article ➤

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