Pawan Hans begins seaplane flights

Singapore
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Indian helicopter operator Pawan Hans has added its first amphibious aircraft to its fleet. It is operating on India's first seaplane service to the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The Cessna Caravan 208A flights, catering for tourists travelling to the islands, began on 27 December.

Pawan Hans is operating the flights in a 50-50 profit and loss sharing set-up with the local administration of the islands, says India's civil aviation ministry.

The Indian government is urging Pawan Hans and other operators to set up a subsidiary to operate a fleet of amphibious aircraft in the region. The administration says it has allowed 100% direct foreign investment in the sector.

"The launch of seaplane operations is expected to boost tourism infrastructure," it says.

Pawan Hans, which is leasing the Caravan 208A, is considering adding more amphibious aircraft, but wants to see how the service performs first.

"The response has been very good, but we just started, so it's too early to say," says Munish Bhargava, Pawan Hans senior manager of corporate affairs.

The Caravan 208A has capacity for eight passengers and two crew members, with a speed of up to 135kt (250km/h).

The amphibian will first be operated on a service between Port Blair in the Andaman islands and Havelock island, says India's civil aviation ministry. The aircraft will fly from an airport in Port Blair and a waterdrome in Havelock.

The services will be extended to other islands in North Andaman, the ministry adds.

Pawan Hans primarily operates helicopters and has a fleet of more than 40.