Aviation Sector Current Affairs - 2019

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India’s first biofuel flight to fly from Dehradun to Delhi

India’s first flight using biofuel will fly from Dehradun (capital of Uttarakhand) to Delhi. The first ever biofuel test flight was conducted by SpiceJet on its turborporp Q-400 plane. With this India will join elite club of nations who have operated flight on alternative energy source like biofuel. Developed countries like Canada, Australia and US have already conducted these test flights. India will be first developing nation to experiment biofuel test flight.

Key Facts

SpiceJet operated first such biofuel flight from Dehradun to Delhi using alternative environment friendly fuel for 10 minutes over Dehradun. Based on the result of test flight, second flight took off later to Delhi. The objective this biofuel flight is to make air travel economical and bring some respite to airlines reeling under high fuel price through use of alternate fuel. Moreover, use of biofuel has the potential to reduce aviation carbon emissions by up to 80%. According to recent data from International Air Transport Association (IATA), recent rising aviation fuel costs in India has eroded aviation sector’s profitability.

Global Scenario

The world’s first dedicated biofuel flight (by Dreamliner Boeing 787-9) was flown for first time from Los Angeles (US) to Melbourne (Australia) in January 2018 by Australian carrier Qantas. The fuel for this 15-hour flight was blended one and was 10% derived from industrial type of mustard seed. In 2011, Alaska Airlines had operated some flights using biofuel made of 50% used cooking oil. Air carrier KLM also had operated few biofuel flights between New York and Amsterdam in 2013.

Background

Biofuel is produced from vegetable oils, recycled grease, algae and animal fat. It is cleaner, environmental friendly fuel that can be used as alternative in place of fossil fuels. To reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and its imports, India is trying to promote biofuels. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently on August 10, 2018 (World Biofuel Day 2018) had released National Policy on Biofuels 2018. Under it, Government plans to triple ethanol production over the next four years. It also has set target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol by 2030.

Government approves proposal for setting up of water aerodromes in the country

Union Civil Aviation Ministry has given in-principle approval to set up water aerodromes in the country. To start with it has identified five states: Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam for development of water aerodromes. In the first phase of the project, Chilka Lake (Odisha), Sabarmati River Front and Sardar Sarovar Dam (Gujarat) have been identified for the development of such facilities.

Key Facts

Airdrome is location from which aircraft flight operations take place, regardless of whether they involve air cargo, passengers. The development of aerodromes projects in India will pave way for operation of amphibian planes (both in land and water) to enhance air connectivity. These water aerodromes will be set up near tourist locations and places of religious importance.

Since there is no historical data, the project will be done on a pilot basis, initially. The entity looking to set up water aerodrome has to take approvals from authorities, including ministries of defence, home, environment and forests, and shipping. DGCA already has issued regulations prescribing procedure and requirement for licensing of water aerodromes.

The water aerodrome cannot be used for scheduled air transport services without licence. The issued licence will be valid for two years. Initially, provisional licence will be issued for period of six months, during which implementation of water aerodrome operation will be monitored and regular licence will be accorded afterwards.

Sea-planes

Sea-planes are small fixed-wing aircrafts designed for taking off and landing on water and do not require capital-intensive infrastructure for operations. They are considered ideal for high-end travel to destinations that are far by road and are not equipped with airports. They require either 1-km long airstrip or water body, which is one km long and at least 10 feet deep.