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India woos Japanese investment to manufacture sea planes

Transport minister Nitin Gadkari requested Japanese firm Setouchi to manufacture seaplanes in the country following the successful trial runs of the firmís aircraft in an effort to boost air connectivity to remote destinations in the country.

Assuring governmental support to the project, Gadkari urged the Japanese firm to start the manufacturing facility in the Make in India category. The government will ensure that the land is made available to start the facility near an air strip. He suggested the facility be set up near Nagpur the home constituency of the minister.

He was speaking at the second phase of the seaplane trials at the Girgaum Chowpatty off the Mumbai coast on December tenth.

The trial flight, conducted by SpiceJet, was carried out with Setouchiís 10-seater Kodiak Quest 1000 seaplane.

There is a lot of potential for seaplanes in the country and domestic production could bring down manufacturing costs. The norms for seaplanes are expected to be finalised in three months in consultation with the civil aviation ministry.

The civial aviation ministry calls it a seaplane; I call it a flying boat. If it is a seaplane, it is controlled by the civil aviation ministry. If it is a flying boat then it is under my control,Ē he said making his intentions clear that he wants to oversee the project.

United States, Canada and Japan already have regulations for operation of seaplanes.

Aviation firm SpiceJet, promoted by Ajay Singh, plans to purchase more than 100 amphibian planes, estimated to cost 400 million US dollars. The budget airlines seeks to boost regional operations.

SpiceJet and Setouchi Holdings have been working closely for the last eight months to explore opportunities for small 10 and 14-seater amphibious planes to provide air connectivity to smaller towns and cities that remain unconnected due to infrastructural challenges.

The sea planes can take off and land on a short runway, as long as 300 metres, as well as handle uneven terrain and mountainous areas.


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