New Delhi: India will induct seaplanes in a big way, atleast one hundred may be pressed into service in the next ten years, to support tourism and essential services in its coastal areas and island territories. The Centre has allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment in this sector and has urged foreign operators to take advantage of the offer.
India is looking to introduce seaplanes on a large scale not merely for tourism, but also to provide essential services and medical aid during floods and other emergencies.
''The international market for seaplanes over the next decade is 1,000 units. I think 10% of that must come to India. That is our target,'' says SNA Zaidi, India's civil aviation secretary.
India has a long coastline and there is a need for strong efforts to promote seaplane operations, he says, as such services will provide a boost to improving the economy of the Anadaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep.
India's ministry for civil aviation has created a separate department to oversee seaplane-related infrastructure, safety, security and regulatory issues, Zaidi said. The ministry was also set to commission a study on key issues concerning seaplane operations in the country.
To encourage waterfront tourism, Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd, in association with the Andaman & Nicobar Administration, introduced a seaplane service to these islands in January this year, with an eight-passenger Cessna Caravan 208A.