The use of the Kodiak 100 Seaplane by PM raises a serious safety issue. It is a single engine aircraft, which means that its chances of recovery are slim in event of an engine failure or say, a nasty bird hit.
Sources said that the security concern was raised with PM but he overrode them.
Sources in the security establishment said that SPG which oversees PM’s security came around after considering it was a controlled flight and the seaplne was flying at a low altitude with a pilot who had more than 30 years of flying experience in the cockpit.
DGCA air safety circular 2 of 1981 lays down the norms for carriage of VVIPs and the first rule, 1.1 states that “twin-engined aircraft with good operational capability, reliability and easy maintainability characteristics should be used”. When on official trips, PM travels by either IAF or AI plane. The requirement that he takes a twin-engine plane holds even when PM is travelling for nonofficial reasons. Said an aircraft charter operator-,”Though PM Modi was attending a function on behalf of his political party and hadn’t boarded the seaplane on official tour as the PM of the country, the norm of using twin-engine aircraft stays.” He added that whenever political parties or private individuals book aircraft for the incumbent CMs or PM, the norms laid down in the ASC 2 of 1981 were considered sacrosanct and are followed. “It’s a safety issue. The seaplane that the PM boarded lands without the help of ground-based navigation aids. It’s plain, old, visual flying. So ensuring the aircraft ferrying VVIPs are at least multi-engine is the most basic of the requirements,” he said.
However, Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari defended PM’s decision, “The PM can choose any mode of transportation. It is a moment of pride for us that he chose it for trial run of a seaplane which has a huge potential. If Rahul Gandhi wants, he can use it,” .
An AI plane used by PM remains grounded for days for security and operational scans.The aircraft, registered N181KQ, flew on December 3 from Al Ain in UAE to Karachi, where it landed at 1.26 pm, local time, according to information sourced from Flightradar24, a Swedish internet-based service that tracks aircraft around the world real-time. The highly respected website/app collects its data from a network of 7,000 receivers that collect information on real-time position of each aircraft from the plane’s own highly accurate onboard transponders.
From Karachi, the seaplane took off around 3.20 pm, the same day and landed in Mumbai at 7.30 pm, local time. From Mumbai it flew to Ahmedabad on Monday. On Tuesday, the seaplane flew from Ahmedabad airport to land in river and then did another sortie wherein it took off and landed both in the same river. It’s third flight for the day took off around 10.45 am and had the PM onboard. The one-year old aircraft is registered in the US and information culled from Federal Aviation Administration website, shows its registered owner as “Bank of Utah trustee”.
Source : timesofindia