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Dorniers in Air India colours to boost regional connectivity

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Air India Regional Dornier Do 228

New Delhi/Kanpur, Dec 4 : After serving the Indian armed forces in various capacities, the German-origin, India-made twin-turboprop Dornier Do-228 aircraft is soon expected to don the colours of flag carrier Air India to boost regional connectivity.

The aircraft, best known for its specialist roles of surveillance, transport, search and rescue, has been found fit by the national passenger carrier to provide ferrying services under the country’s ambitious regional connectivity scheme (RCS) christened as UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik).

According to two senior officials with the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Air India has shown interest in at least two civilian versions of the 19-seater aircraft.

“Air India has shown interest in the Dornier aircraft. This has sprung from the fact that the aircraft has a very low operational and maintenance cost,” a senior HAL official told on condition of anonymity.

“Even in terms of the overall off-the-shelf price and lifecycle costs, the aircraft is far too competitive to its closest rivals, not to mention the proven track record of the aircraft with the Indian armed forces,” the official told IANS on the phone from Kanpur, where the aircraft is manufactured under licence.

The official elaborated that though due diligence has been conducted by Air India, the two parties are yet to enter into a formal agreement for purchasing the two aircraft.

“We are currently manufacturing two Dornier aircraft for civilian roles which will be ready by the mid of next year,” the official said.

The twin-turboprop, high-wing aircraft has been used for different purposes, such as VIP transport, surveillance, air observation, air ambulance services, cargo and logistics support, and maritime surveillance.

Last year, the aircraft had received regulatory approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for a civilian role in accordance with the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR 21G).

The aircraft originally manufactured by RUAG — a Swiss technology major — is being license manufactured by HAL since the 1980s at its Kanpur facility.

Air India, which will participate in the upcoming reverse-bidding round for allocation of RCS routes on December 5, is said to have selected the aircraft for its low-operational cost.

This may be the second innings of the aircraft in civilian role after it had served the few civil aviation players more than two decades ago.

“Operating a small aircraft with lesser number of seats jacks up the total operational cost manifolds. So an aircraft with an overall low operational and maintenance cost is best chosen for these types of operations,” an Air India official said.

The UDAN scheme envisages enhancing air passenger traffic in the country by stimulating demand on regional routes.

The operations under the scheme are intended to provide air connectivity to unserved and remote routes, with airfare being capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey of around 500 km.

The allocation of routes under the scheme will be based on a reverse bidding mechanism, with selected airlines getting a VGF (viability gap funding), apart from various other financial concessions for a period of three years.

While the central government is expected to provide concessions in the form of reduced excise duty and service tax, the state governments will have to lower the VAT (value added tax) on air turbine fuel (ATF) to one per cent or less.

Besides, the state governments would not charge on security and fire services, and electricity, water and other utilities would be provided at concessional rates.

On their part, airport operators will not impose landing and parking charges and terminal navigation landing fees. They would also offer discounts on route navigation facility charges.

As per another HAL official, “Last year, the HAL board sanctioned the production of two civil Dornier aircraft. HAL intends to operate these from its own airport at Nashik.”

Last month, the Union cabinet had approved the purchase of 12 Dornier aircraft for the Indian Navy for Rs 2,500 crore.

Currently, HAL is manufacturing 16 Dornier aircraft for various customers, including the IAF. In 2015, the HAL had bagged an order for 14 Do-228 aircraft for the IAF.

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SpiceJet to start Shirdi-Delhi flight from October

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Spicejet

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Budget carrier SpiceJet will commence flight service on the Shirdi-Delhi-Shirdi sector from October 1, said the airline on Monday.

“Our new flight will offer an immediate boost to religious tourism that the city is best known for,” Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet, was quoted in a statement.

Besides, it will also launch a new daily direct flight on the Mumbai-Kanpur route from October 8.

The airline will also operate first direct flight on the Mumbai-Jaisalmer route starting October 29 and a third direct flight on Mumbai-Kolkata sector from November 1.

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13 Indians, Israelis with blind climbers, scale Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Mumbai, Sep 24:  In an unique adventure sports initiative, a group of blind and able-bodied climbers from India and Israel have scaled the world’s fourth highest and Africa’s tallest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, an organiser said here on Monday.

The climb between September 8-14 was billed as India’s first Inclusive Climb. It included two blind climbers from India and one from Israel, besides 10 others, said the founder of Summitting4Hope (S4H) and expedition leader Anusha Subramanian.

“The climb to the 5885-metre high Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, is another victory of inclusion, which is close to the hearts of S4H and Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF).

“It re-evaluated our rigid views about disability and shattered stereotypes that plague persons with disability,” Subramanian, a media professional told news-persons.

She said it is appalling that as a society, we define what ‘they can’ and ‘cannot do’, but combating severe fatigue and acute mountain sickness, all the participants successfully summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The inclusive climb included 14-year old Baepi Donio of Israel — the youngest climber, besides a German teacher, a mother-son duo, two independent filmmakers and six local and three Indian mountain guides in the expedition.

The Pune-based ABBF founder and one of the blind climbers, Divyanshu Ganatra, said that “exclusion is something that persons with disability routinely encounter and with disability, in India, comes ‘invisibility'”, but the real challenge is to understand despite the differences.

“Mountains and nature or outdoors don’t differentiate between anyone, so why is it that we discriminate among people? I believe that to change something, you have to change yourself,” said Subramanian.

Besides Ganatra and Subramanian, the 13-member group included filmmakers Sehran Mohsin and Omkar Potdar, mountain guide Karn Kowshik, IT consultant Prasad Gurav, German teacher Omana Kale, Israelis Uri Basha, Sophie Donio and her 14-year old son Baepi, adventure sports enthusiast Vaishak J.P., motivational speaker Nupur Pittie and consultant Adi Raheja.

The ABBF is said to be the only NGO in the country working with cross-disabilities by providing more opportunities to disabled persons with adaptive adventure and sports activities, marathons, tandem cycling, scuba-diving, paragliding and mountaineering.

S4H, co-founded by Subramanian and Guneet Puri in 2013 with the aim to rehabilitate the flood-ravaged people of Uttarakhand, has supported other causes like Kashmir floods, Nepal earthquake and since last year the disabled persons especially from the economically weaker income groups.

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Delhi airport gets top honour at ASQ Awards 2017

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Indira Gandhi International Airport

New Delhi, Sep 17 : The national capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has bagged the title of Best Airport to handle over 40 million passengers per annum (MPPA) by the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards 2017.

The Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), a GMR-led consortium which operates and manages the IGIA, made the announcement on Monday.

Image result for indira gandhi international airport

“As we witness robust growth, we look forward to a strong collaboration and support of all airport stakeholders and our esteemed passengers. We are set to undertake the expansion works at Delhi airport in line with IGIA Master Plan-2016,” I. Prabhakara Rao, Executive Director, GMR Airports, was quoted as saying in a statement.

According to the statement, the Delhi airport is now the seventh busiest airports in Asia and among the top 20 busiest airports across the world.

ASQ is a worldwide programme to survey passengers at the airport on their day of travel. Every year the programme delivers some 600,000 individual surveys in 41 languages in 84 countries.

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