Port Blair Set to Get More Air Connectivity with Bengaluru and Hyderabad

Low-cost air carrier GoAir has added Hyderabad as its 23rd destination on its network; services to begin from October 2016. Hyderabad-Bengaluru-Port Blair are now going to be air-connected.

Earlier, India’s leading low cost air carrier, IndiGo, had introduced three new flights connecting Port Blair with Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi. Port Blair thus became IndiGo’s 41st destination.

As of now, the Mumbai based no-frills airline GoAir flies to 22 domestic airports with a fleet of 21 Airbus A320 including A320neo.

This will provide leisure and business travelers more travel options.

In a press release, GoAir said that it would add Hyderabad in its network with the launch of non-stop flight services between Hyderabad and Chennai, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, & Kolkata from October 2016.

Tickets for the new flights are already up for sale, the release said, and can be booked through the company website, NC Airways, GoAir Call Centre, airport ticketing offices, and the GoAir mobile app that is available on both Apple iOS and Google Android.

“This latest addition to GoAir network reflects the airline’s phase of growth with a focus on scaling up operations gradually in the coming weeks while strengthening the value proposition to suit customer’s demand. With new additions of aircraft in coming months, GoAir will operate up to 184 daily flights by the end of December from current 144.” the airline said.

In June 2011, GoAir had placed an order with the European airplane maker, Airbus, for 72 new A320 neo aircraft valued at about Rs 3,24,000 million on list price. Thereafter, GoAir signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for another 72 A320neo aircraft at Farnborough International Airshow in July 2016.

GoAir had last month said that it planned to add five more planes in the fleet by March 2017 besides commencing international operations.

“Hyderabad is a key market in south and central India and a significant base for business and tourism in the region. Adding Hyderabad with its ideal geographical location, we reinforce our commitments towards connectivity across the country,” GoAir Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Prock-Schaeur said in the release.

“We are happy to welcome GoAir to Hyderabad Airport. As one of the fastest growing airports in the country, our focus has been on providing more options to our passengers and with the introduction of services by GoAir, we now offer a wider range of choices in terms of destinations and frequencies. We keenly look forward to working together with GoAir towards our goal of establishing Hyderabad Airport as the gateway to south & central India,” GMR Hyderabad International Airport CEO, S G K Kishore said.

Massive SAR on for Missing IAF’s AN-32 Plane with 29 Onboard

July 22, 2016. 08:46 hrs.

On way to Port Blair from ChennaiAn Indian Air Force Antonov-32 transport aircraft with 29 on board on way to Port Blair from Chennai, went missing over the Bay of Bengal off the Chennai coast.

The last radio contact with the AN-32 was at 8.46 am, 16 minutes after it had taken off from the Tambaram airbase at Chennai. The aircraft was apparently last spotted on radars at about 9.15 am, around 151 nautical miles due east of Chennai.

According to a report submitted to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar by Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, according to the recorded transcript of Chennai air traffic radar, last pickup was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai, when the aircraft was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.

“Efforts on to trace IAF AN 32 aircraft and our Service personnel on board,” Parrikar said in a tweet.

The aircraft was reportedly on a routine weekly courier  flight for Air Force personnel to Port Blair.  As reports poured in, the plane was slated to land at Port Blair at 11.30 am, and it was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from its flying altitude of 23,000-feet. There was no Mayday call. The endurance of the aircraft was four hours and 15 minutes.

The twin-engined aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to 33 Squadron at the Sulur airbase, had a six-member crew of two pilots:

-Flight Lieutenant Pushpendra Badsara and Flying Officer Pankaj Kumar Nanda,

-A navigator (Flight Lieutenant Kunal Barpatte),

-A flight engineer and

-Two technicians.

along with 15 personnel from the IAF, army, navy and Coast Guard, and eight civilians who were family members of the personnel.

iaf-an-32-fileAN-32 is a twin-engined military transport aircraft of Russian make and used heavily by IAF. India bought 125 AN-32 aircraft in 1984. The IAF at present has a fleet of over 100 AN-32s. 

The Russian-origin aircraft is known for its excellent take-off characteristics in hot conditions, and is suitable for use as a medium tactical military transport. The  aircraft is mainly used for transporting cargo and passengers, including skydivers and paratroopers.

After India decided in 2009 to get the aircraft upgraded, 40 were upgraded in Ukraine and the rest in India.

The final batch of upgraded AN-32RE aircraft was delivered in 2015. The modifications have enhanced the life of these aircraft by 15 years to serve till 2035, according to experts.

As the aircraft went missing, a full-scale search and rescue operation was launched immediately involving aircraft, helicopters, ships and a submarine to find the plane. 

The SAR mounted by IAF, Navy and Coast Guard, with 16 warships and vessels as well as two Poseidon-8I, one C-130J Super Hercules and three Dornier aircraft for the “probable crash zone” to hunt for the missing AN-32 in the choppy seas continued throughout the night.

A Sindhughosh-class submarine was also diverted from “an ongoing mission” to “seek underwater transmissions from the locator beacon of the aircraft” but there was no trace of the ill-fated medium-lift aircraft till late in the evening. “The search will continue throughout the night,” said an SAR officer.

The ill-fated plane remained untraceable despite day and night SAR efforts.

“Only a catastrophic in a “no talk/radio zone” or “dead zone could destroy an aircraft suddenly,” said an experienced pilot with the Indian defence forces. According to him, an AN-32 aircraft will not drop down like a stone or vanish into thin air in the case of normal emergency, as there will be reaction time.Thunderstorm

“But in the case of a catastrophic threat, the pilots will not have the necessary reaction time,” he added.

On the probable cause of its vanishing suddenly, he said, “The possibilities of different catastrophic events happening in the sky cannot be ruled out. For example if an aircraft is caught in a strong thunderstorm, then a plane is as good as a paper caught in the storm. The storm will throw the plane like a stone.”

The other catastrophic events that can happen to a plane are: sudden failure of all the engines; devastating fire; fuel leakage, jamming of flight controls, loss of flight controls due to fire; power and electrical failure and others.


Greenfield Airports Coming Up: Some Disagree

(PTI) The Ministry of Civil Aviation has given in-principle approval for a greenfield airport in Gujarat as well as site clearance for four airports in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan this year. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said various proposals have been received for setting up greenfield airports in many states including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, he said, this year, the ministry has granted ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up a greenfield airport at Dholera in Gujarat.

Besides, ‘site clearance’ was granted in January for greenfield airports at “three locations in Andhra Pradesh namely Dagadarthi Mendal in Nellore, Bhogapuram in Vizianagaram and Oravakallu in Kurnool and one location in Rajasthan namely Bhiwadi in Alwar”, Sharma said. According to him, a decision has been taken to close the existing Vishakapatnam airport for civilian operations once the new airport at Bhogapuram becomes operational.

Under the Greenfield Airport Policy, 2008, funding of the projects is the responsibility of individual developers.

The minister said that proposals have been received for having greenfield airports at various locations. These include “Sholapur and Bolera (Amrawati) in Maharashtra, Annakara (Idduki) in Kerala, Dwarka in Gujarat, Gwalior and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, Androth in Lakshadweep, Kothagudem (Khammam) in Telangana, Jewar in Uttar Pradesh and Chingleput in Tamil Nadu.

Visakhapatnam: Air Travellers Association of India (ATA) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop wasteful expenditure by the state government on building a Greenfield international airport at Bhogapuram instead of developing the existing airport. Approvals, if any, given so far may kindly be withdrawn so that precious land can be saved wrote ATA (I) president D. Varada Reddy wrote in the letter.

He said that the policy of Government of India regarding Greenfield airports need to be redefined. Constructing Greenfield airports would become a requiem for metro cities where the passenger strength per annum crosses two crores.

“Greenfield airports in metro cities also help clear congestion and overcrowding of roads and airports. If however the non- metro cities also aspire for these airports, without any basic data, it leads to unnecessary expenditure besides redundancy.

People in this region are questioning the necessity of such a Greenfield airport in Bhogapuram. Ninety eight per cent air passengers whom ATA (I) has surveyed, categorically said ‘no’ to such an airport at Bhogapuram. The AP government wants to spend Rs 2,516 crore at a time when the state coffers are empty and the Chief Minister of AP keeps talking endlessly about the financial crisis post bifurcation of the state,” he added.