Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet has concluded trials for possible services with the Quest Kodiak aircraft equipped as a seaplane.
Over the last six months SpiceJet and Quest owner Setouchi have explored opportunities to provide regional air connectivity to smaller towns and cities in the subcontinent that remain unconnected due to infrastructure challenges.
The latest phase of trials involved an amphibious Kodiak, following trials with Kodiak equipped with a standard undercarriage in Nagpur and Guwahati.
SpiceJet adds that it is considering the operation of amphibious aircraft in the Northeastern regions such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, along with other coastal areas of the country.
“We see tremendous potential in our smaller cities and we feel it is our duty as an Indian carrier to bring these smaller towns on the country’s aviation map. Being the largest regional airline in the country and a trendsetter of the Regional Connectivity Scheme, SpiceJet will continue to add new wings and give a boost to regional economies," says SpiceJet's chairman and managing director Ajay Singh.
Last month, the low-cost carrier announced the possibility of obtaining Kodiaks for regional flights.
Singh previously said that the passenger segment that would be served by the Kodiaks is not likely to be able to pay high fares. Therefore, government support would be necessary to make Kodiak services work.
According to Quest's website, the Kodiak can carry a maximum of 10 occupants including the pilot. It can take off with just 934ft of runway, and has a range of 1,132nm. It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A turboprop.
Idaho-based Quest was established in 2001 with backing from 14 missionary and humanitarian organisations requiring new utility aircraft to access short airstrips in rugged and remote regions. It formally launched the 10-seat Kodiak in 2005, secured US certification in May 2007 and began deliveries at the end of that year.
Setouchi acquired Idaho-based Quest in 2015.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that SpiceJet operates 37 Boeing 737s, and 20 Bombardier Q400 turboprops.