The partnership between aircraft manufacturers and engine suppliers is vital to guaranteeing the success and reliability of commercial and military aircraft in the perpetually evolving aviation sector. One such collaboration is between the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer and the renowned engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney has recently had durability issues with its jet engines, raising industry concerns. While Embraer expresses its "full support" for Pratt & Whitney in overcoming these obstacles, a separate dispute with engine manufacturers has resulted in the cancellation of a new turboprop plane project.
Embraer and Pratt & Whitney: Background
Embraer, a well-known Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, has built a reputation for competence in the design and manufacture of innovative aircraft. Embraer has contributed considerably to the worldwide aviation sector throughout the years, delivering a varied variety of commercial, military, and executive aircraft. The company's dedication to quality and client satisfaction has earned it a reputable reputation in the market. Pratt & Whitney, on the other hand, has established itself as a premier engine maker, supplying dependable and high-performance engines to a wide range of aircraft manufacturers throughout the world. The engines produced by the firm are noted for their efficiency, durability, and cutting-edge technical characteristics. Pratt & Whitney's relationship with Embraer has been critical to the engine company's business, with the engine maker supplying engines for Embraer's aircraft.
According to Raytheon Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney CEO Francisco Gomes Neto, the company is working hard to address premature wear concerns that have grounded certain jets. "I'm directly involved in this; we recently paid them a visit... "We believe they have the capability to resolve the issues," Gomes Neto said at a press conference in Portugal, adding that Embraer planes were less affected than other types. Pratt Whitney Geared Turbofan engines power the world's third-largest plane maker’s current E2 series of jets. Similar engines are available on the bigger Airbus A320neo series and are at the heart of a dispute between Pratt and India's GoFirst about the reason for the airline's demise. Gomes Neto stated that Embraer was participating in current campaigns for possible commercial jet sales totaling more than 200 aircraft, which he stated would support a goal of recovering annual jet deliveries to 100 within 3-4 years. At a media presentation, he reiterated that the company's ambitions for a new turboprop aircraft were "on hold," blaming a lack of appealing commercial propositions from engine manufacturers. "We have not yet found the right engine solution," he said. ATR, which is owned by Airbus (AIR.PA) and Leonardo (LDOF.MI), dominates the market for 50-70-seat turboprops. Meanwhile, China is working on the Xian MA700.
The Durability Issues with Recent Jet Engines
Pratt & Whitney has recently had issues with the durability of its jet engines. These difficulties have sparked anxiety in the aviation industry, as the engines that power aeroplanes are directly responsible for their dependability and performance. The durability issues have triggered research and assessments to determine the core reasons and propose appropriate remedies. These durability concerns have a significant effect. It not only has an impact on the aircraft's operating efficiency, but it also creates safety issues for passengers and crew. Engine faults or malfunctions can result in unscheduled repairs, flight delays, and even significant flying dangers. Pratt & Whitney has taken urgent action to resolve these issues, collaborating with industry experts, engineers, and regulatory agencies to provide complete solutions.
Embraer's Aid to Pratt & Whitney
Despite Pratt & Whitney's difficulties, Embraer remains committed to its engine supplier. Embraer understands the value of collaboration and cooperation in the aviation sector, especially during difficult times. Embraer, as a long-standing partner, recognizes Pratt & Whitney's devotion and skill in creating dependable engines. Embraer's dedication to Pratt & Whitney originates from the realization that overcoming durability issues benefits both firms. Embraer guarantees the dependability and safety of their aircraft by supporting Pratt & Whitney in addressing these problems, thereby maintaining customer confidence and loyalty. Collaboration between the two firms is critical to their success and growth.
The New Turboprop Plane Project Has Been Suspended
While Embraer is assisting Pratt & Whitney in resolving engine-related concerns, a separate dispute between Embraer and engine manufacturers has resulted in the cancellation of a new turboprop jet project. The specifics of the disagreement and the people involved have yet to be made public. This development, however, has caused uncertainty for Embraer's corporate goals and strategic ambitions. Embraer is disappointed by the cancellation of the new turboprop jet project since the business had great aspirations for this initiative. The turboprop industry offers several prospects, and Embraer planned to enter it with a creative and technologically superior aircraft. The dispute with engine manufacturers has momentarily slowed development, requiring both sides to work out their differences and find a mutually advantageous solution.
The Tussle with Engine Manufacturers
The conflict between Embraer and engine manufacturers was a major cause of the cancellation of the new turboprop jet project. While specifics are limited, it is clear that disputes and competing interests have formed, impeding the project's progress. Contractual requirements, price disagreements, or differences in strategic goals can all lead to such confrontations. The resolution of the dispute with engine manufacturers is critical for Embraer's future endeavors. Cooperation and mutual understanding among all parties are critical for overcoming obstacles and restarting progress on the turboprop plane project. Clear communication, bargaining, and compromise may pave the way for a mutually beneficial outcome.
Resolving Issues and Moving Forward
To overcome current jet engine durability issues and address the dispute with engine manufacturers, Embraer, Pratt & Whitney, and other key parties must collaborate to discover complete solutions. Collaboration and open communication are essential for resolving conflicts and ensuring that all parties' interests are considered. Pratt & Whitney could restore trust in the dependability and performance of its engines by resolving the durability issues with current jet engines. This, in turn, builds trust in Embraer's aircraft and increases their market position. Simultaneously, Embraer and engine manufacturers must establish common ground in order to reconcile their disagreements and restart the turboprop plane project, seizing chances in the rising market. The future prospects of the Embraer and Pratt & Whitney partnerships are dependent on their ability to successfully traverse these hurdles. Both firms can deepen their alliance and continue providing high-quality aircraft to satisfy the aviation industry's expectations by prioritizing transparency, cooperation, and innovation.
The aviation sector functions in a dynamic environment, with new difficulties and disputes arising on a regular basis. Embraer's complete support for Pratt & Whitney in addressing durability issues on contemporary aircraft engines demonstrates the strength of their collaboration. While these engine-related issues continue, a separate dispute with engine manufacturers has resulted in the cancellation of a new turboprop plane project. Embraer, Pratt & Whitney, and other stakeholders must work together to tackle these concerns. Addressing durability issues improves aircraft safety and dependability, benefiting both firms and the industry as a whole. Similarly, resolving the disagreement with engine manufacturers opens the door to future partnerships and the construction of revolutionary aircraft. Embraer and Pratt & Whitney must collaborate to effectively handle these hurdles in an industry that depends on partnerships and collaboration. They can increase their market positions, provide outstanding aircraft to consumers, and impact the future of aviation by doing so.
With Inputs form Reuters
Growth and expansion are critical in the competitive world of aviation for airlines to stay relevant and preserve their market position. SKS Airways, a well-known Malaysian airline, understands the need to invest in novel aircraft to fulfil the ever-shifting needs of customers. SKS Airways' recent decision to opt for the Embraer E195-E2 represents a crucial turning point in their expansion aspirations.
SKS Airways and Embraer
Malaysia's SKS Airways, a major participant in the regional aviation market, has announced an exciting announcement that would accelerate its expansion aspirations. The airline has chosen the technologically sophisticated Embraer E195-E2, which is widely regarded as the world's most efficient and quiet single-aisle aircraft. A distinguished signing ceremony conducted during the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA'23) sealed the transaction for ten E195-E2s. The E195-E2s will be the backbone of SKS Airways' development ambitions, located at Kuala Lumpur's city airport, Subang, beginning in 2024. The E195-E2 jet has a range of 2,600nm, which equates to seven hours of flight time. The aircraft will have 136 seats, which will be quite comfortable. SKS Airways will be the first E195-E2 operator in the Southeast Asian region, expanding Embraer's E-Jets footprint in the Asia-Pacific region, which presently numbers upwards of 200. The lease agreement between SKS Airways and Azorra was witnessed by Malaysia's Yang di-Pertuan Agong, His Majesty Sultan Abdullah ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah, Minister of Transport YB Tuan Loke Siew Fook, H.E. Ary Norton de Murat Quintella, Embraer's Johann Bordais, President & CEO of Embraer Services & Support, and Martyn Holmes, CCO of Embraer Commercial Aviation.
"This is a significant day for the future of aviation in Malaysia," stated Dato' Rohman Ahmad, Director of SKS Airways. We are pleased to announce the successful completion of these agreements with industry leaders such as Embraer and Azorra, who share our vision for the future of air travel. We are pleased to enter a new chapter of expansion with a fleet of Embraer Jets flying out of Subang, thanks to these strategic relationships. The E195-E2's low noise emissions and the predominance of E-Jets at city airports across the globe make the aircraft an ideal match for flights into and out of Subang Airport, supporting the Government's goal of establishing Subang Airport as Malaysia's premier city airport and aviation centre."
"The E2 is the aircraft family of choice for airlines around the world seeking to develop their regional routes," stated Martyn Holmes, Chief Commercial Officer, Embraer Commercial Aviation. The E195-E2, being the most contemporary and efficient single-aisle aircraft, will be a game changer for our first Malaysian operator, SKS Airways, as it expands regional connections inside Malaysia and beyond. We are pleased to welcome SKS Airways to the Embraer family and look forward to expanding our engagement and collaborations in Malaysia as the nation develops as a key aerospace centre."
"We are delighted to collaborate with SKS Airways on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of Subang Airport's future expansion." We think Embraer's innovative E2 technology is ideal for a renovated, premier aviation hub near the centre of Kuala Lumpur, decreasing travel times and enhancing regional connections. The E2's fuel economy, low carbon footprint, and low noise emissions provide a transformational, environmentally aware jet solution for the city, area, and citizens', stated Azorra CEO John Evans.
Introduction and Key Features of the Embraer E195-E2
Embraer, a well-known aircraft manufacturer, created the E195-E2 as a game-changer in the aviation sector. This cutting-edge aeroplane combines cutting-edge technology, fuel efficiency, and passenger comfort. The E195-E2 was developed primarily for small airlines, providing great performance and operational flexibility. The E195-E2 includes numerous major characteristics that distinguish it from its competitors. For starters, its enhanced aerodynamics and next-generation engines contribute to greater fuel economy, lowering operating costs and impact on the environment. Furthermore, the E195-E2 has the quietest cabin in its class, delivering a comfortable flight experience for passengers while minimizing noise pollution.
SKS Airways' Expansion Strategy and Growth Plans
SKS Airways, a key player in the regional aviation industry, intends to strengthen its position by extending its operations. The choice of the Embraer E195-E2 is consistent with their growth ambitions and expansion strategy. SKS Airways can improve its operating capabilities, increase customer happiness, and gain a greater market share by investing in contemporary and efficient aircraft. The expansion plan of SKS Airways is focused on improving their regional network, increasing flight frequency, and exploring new routes. The addition of the E195-E2 to their fleet will help them with these goals by allowing them to service more locations, increase connectivity, and deliver a better travel experience.
The LIMA'23 Signing Ceremony
The official announcement and signing ceremony of SKS Airways' cooperation with Embraer took place during the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA'23). LIMA'23 is a renowned event that displays the most recent innovations in the aerospace sector, attracting participants and spectators from all over the world. The signing ceremony at LIMA'23 was a watershed moment for both SKS Airways and Embraer. It represented their commitment to collaboration and emphasized the airline's commitment to investing in cutting-edge technology. The event drew a lot of interest from industry stakeholders, the media, and aviation enthusiasts.
SKS Airways Benefits from the Embraer E195-E2
SKS Airways will greatly benefit from its decision to fly the Embraer E195-E2. For starters, the E195-E2's fuel economy greatly decreases operational expenses, allowing the airline to optimise its resources and boost profitability. Lowering fuel use also reduces carbon impact, which aligns with SKS Airways' commitment to sustainability. Another critical factor that SKS Airways hopes to improve with the launch of the E195-E2 is passenger happiness. The aircraft's roomy interior layout, comfortable seats, and lower noise levels make flying more enjoyable and restful. SKS Airways understands the value of client satisfaction in fostering brand loyalty and earning a competitive advantage.
Implications for the Regional Aviation Industry
The choice of the Embraer E195-E2 by SKS Airways has significant implications for the regional aviation market. SKS Airways' selection affects consumer impressions and preferences as one of the market's important participants. Other airlines in the region may reconsider their fleet strategy and explore purchasing more sophisticated and efficient planes. As other airlines examine the possible impact of SKS Airways' fleet upgrade, competitor analysis becomes critical. With the debut of the E195-E2, SKS Airways promotes itself as a forward-thinking and technologically sophisticated airline with the potential to attract more customers and capture a greater market share. Because of SKS Airways' dedication to innovation, the regional aviation market is expected to see a beneficial transition.
The selection of the Embraer E195-E2 for SKS Airways' development ambitions constitutes a significant milestone for both the airline and the regional aviation industry. SKS Airways strives to increase operational efficiency, improve the customer experience, and boost its market position by investing in innovative technology and fuel-efficient aircraft. The collaboration between SKS Airways and Embraer exemplifies the industry's emphasis on innovation and sustainability. The sophisticated features, cost-saving benefits, and passenger-centric design of the E195-E2 make it a great candidate for SKS Airways' expansion aspirations. The Embraer E195-E2 will play a critical role in realizing the airline's goals of growing its regional network.
With Inputs from Embraer
Qatar Airways & Gulf Air Schedule Resumption of Doha-Bahrain Non-Stop Flights
Qatar Airways and Gulf Air have scheduled the resumption of nonstop service between Qatar and Bahrain for the first time since the countries resolved a feud that dates back to June 2017. The airlines will restart operations between Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) and Bahrain International Airport (BAH) on May 25, ending a nearly six-year absence of direct flights. The planned return comes just weeks after Qatar and Bahrain restored diplomatic ties.
Qatar Airways booking system shows the 50-min. flight will be offered daily using Airbus A320 aircraft. Until now, passengers booking through Qatar Airways only had the option of a one-stop service via Muscat operated by Oman Airlines, taking over 7 hr. Gulf Air has also placed tickets for the BAH-DOH service on sale, with daily flights departing Bahrain at 9.30 AM and returning from Doha at 11.15 AM. The restoration of the 146 km route follows a decision by leaders in Qatar and Bahrain to end a long-running diplomatic feud and reestablish relations.
Bahrain in 2017 joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in imposing a diplomatic blockade on Qatar. The four countries accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region—an accusation vehemently rejected by Qatar.
The Saudi-led coalition presented Qatar with 13 demands as conditions for ending the embargo, including reducing diplomatic relations with Iran and closing the news organization Al-Jazeera. However, Qatar refused to comply, plunging the region into crisis.
Although the crisis ended in 2021 under the Al Ula Declaration, Bahrain is the last of the four countries to renew ties with Qatar. A reconciliation agreement was reached in April through talks at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) headquarters in Saudi Arabia.
Operations in 2017
The pair have 14 weekly departing flights (double for both ways). However, using OAG to examine schedules for the year to June 2017, when the blockade took effect, shows that they had up to 93 weekly departures, nearly seven times more than they do now. In the year to June 2017, British Airways, KLM, Pakistan International, and Air India Express also served the airport pair as part of their more comprehensive operations.
“The two sides affirmed that this step stems from the mutual desire to develop bilateral relations and enhance the Gulf unity and integration according to the GCC Charter and in respect of the principles of equality between states, national sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity and good neighbourliness,” a statement from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at the time.
Before the blockade in 2017, Qatar Airways served the Doha-Bahrain market up to seven times per day, while Gulf Air provided up to six daily flights. The two carriers offered more than 28,000 two-way weekly seats between the destinations, OAG Schedules Analyser data shows.
Qatar and Bahrain Dispute
Qatar and Bahrain are resolving a years-long dispute and restoring diplomatic ties. Delegates from the two countries met on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) General Secretariat in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, the countries’ foreign ministries said in separate statements.
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary-General Ahmed bin Hassan al-Hammadi met with Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Political Affairs Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa to discuss resolving a feud that dates back to 2017. That year, Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, imposed a diplomatic blockade on Qatar over claims it was too close to Iran and backed hardline groups, allegations Doha has always firmly denied.
Back in January, Bahrain’s crown prince and the Qatari emir had a phone call to discuss their differences, in a move that foreshadowed thawing relations between the two. The four Arab countries had banned Qatari planes and ships from using their airspace and waters, and cut trade links. In 2021, however, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt resumed these ties, although the UAE and Qatar have yet to open their respective embassies.
Bahrain’s dispute with Qatar centred mostly on its relationship with Iran and issues along its maritime border. The restoration of ties comes amid several other efforts to resolve regional disputes, including between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Akasa Air Plans To Place A "Substantially" Large Aircraft Order By Year End
Akasa Air announced placing a "substantially" large order for new narrow-body jets by the end of 2023, said its CEO Vinay Dube. He added that the airline looks to capitalise on booming demand at home and begin international flights.
Vinay Dube, in an interview, said, “Before the end of this year we are going to place another aircraft order that is going to be substantially larger than the 72 aircraft order we have placed. Akasa's founder added that the new order will be for narrow-body planes, but didn’t provide any detail about the number of planes. Dube also didn’t mention whether the order would go to Boeing or Airbus either.
Recently, the 200-day-old airline has taken delivery of 17 Boeing 737 MAX planes out of a total order of 72 jets, which are expected to be delivered by March 2027. The order plans come as travel demand in India has seen a sharp rebound post-COVID-19, making it the world's fastest-growing aviation market, with capacity surpassing 2019 levels and passenger numbers inching close.
Air India placed an order for 470 jets in January, the largest by a single airline, as it looks to revamp its ageing fleet to capitalise on the travel boom at home while also competing with Gulf rivals like Emirates for international passenger traffic. Indian airlines are forecast to order 1,500 to 1,700 planes over the next couple of years, according to consultancy CAPA India, including a likely 500-plane order from Akasa rival IndiGo, the country's biggest airline.
Adding Aircraft In Upcoming Months
Akasa Air will add three planes to its fleet within the next three months to reach 20, making it eligible to fly to international destinations as per Indian government rules, Dube said.
"By the end of the year, we hope to be flying internationally," he added, with the carrier targeting destinations within the range of a 737 MAX in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Dube said in the domestic market, Akasa would focus on its strategy of connecting smaller cities with the country's major metros at a time when demand remains strong despite high ticket prices. "Everything is growing gangbusters," he said. "The demand in India as a whole is going to continue to grow and grow and grow."
He further said, “We are going to stay focussed on narrow bodies that are well not domestic it will be international as well but international within the sphere of 5.5 to 6 hours is what the capability of a narrow body is and that is what we will stay focussed on.”
Akasa Air now flies to 17 destinations across India, with Kolkata being it's second in West Bengal after Bagdogra, which launched in March. The addition of the capital is significant since Akasa now flies to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Kolkata, all four major metro cities in the country.
Akasa Air’s 'World's Youngest Fleet'
Akasa Air boasted about having the youngest fleet and being the greenest airline in the world while flaunting its sustainability credentials. The airline, which started flying in August 2022, currently has a fleet of 19 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with an average age of 3.7 years. Let's learn more.
The carrier owns 19 737 MAX aircraft, with the oldest aircraft being 4 years old and the youngest being 3.3 years old, according to Planespotters.net. These aircraft are 3.7 years old on average. Given that Akasa only started flying eight months ago, meaning that its aircraft are much older than its operations, this might seem interesting.
However, Akasa opted for an aggressive delivery schedule that saw it pick up dozens of white-tail aircraft from Boeing (planes that were not taken up by the customer). This also explains why the carrier still has 12 business class seats on 10 of its 19 aircraft currently, although this has been affected by supply chain issues affecting cabin seating sharply.
When it comes to sustainability, the airline is working hard to reduce its footprint. In addition to operating some of the most efficient jets in the sky today, Akasa Air has also declined the customary water cannon salute given to new operators during their first flights. The carrier estimates this has saved 300,000 litres of water to date, a notable figure.
About Akasa Air
Akasa Air, a brand of SNV Aviation Private Limited is an Indian low-cost airline headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It was founded by Vinay Dube and Aditya Ghosh with investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala holding a 46% stake in the airline. The carrier launched its first commercial flight on August 7, 2022, and currently has a fleet of 19 planes. Akasa Air now flies to 17 cities, operating over 900 weekly flights across India, and will likely start overseas flights later this year. The airline will continue to grow its network to establish a strong pan-India presence focusing on the metro, Tier 2 & Tier 3 route connectivity. It has placed a firm order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, powered by CFM fuel-efficient, LEAP-1B engines.
Being a low-cost airline, Akasa Air operates an all-economy configuration in their Boeing 737 Max variants, with a total of 189 or 174 passengers in the -8 variant and 197 in the -200 variant. To keep fares at a low price, the airline does not provide any in-flight meals, however, the airline operates Cafè Akasa, its own catering service where passengers can purchase food on board. The airline has no In-Flight Entertainment system. The airline offers passengers the "Flexi premium services" where passengers get food, seat selection, priority and lower costs for date changes and cancellations. This service is similar to other Low-Cost Carriers in India.
Someone recently tweeted pilots’ salaries in an airline. That tweet began with a ‘phew,’ so I will list out the realities of a pilot’s life, just a few! I didn’t say the realities of a pilot’s job, because it’s not just a job; it’s an interesting lifestyle, but not a cakewalk. It requires commitment, consistency, and care, besides the ability to face constant criticism! I’ve heard it said, “Pilots are just glorified drivers who are under-educated and overpaid.”
The minimum requirement for a CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) is Class 12, but not all pilots are only 12th pass! Among my pilot friends, 2 are Ph.D., 3 Doctors, 2 Engineers, lots of graduates, many are ex-military, and one is a former policeman. I retired from the Indian Air Force, having done BA from NDA in Maths & Physics. And I am also MDS. Hearing that, one gent started discussing his dental problems with me, till I told him I was a Master not in Dental Surgery, but in Defence Studies! But even those with formal education only till the 12th standard, must study further to get a CPL.
It is tougher than college, though they do not get a degree certificate. If CPL is like graduation, you need post-graduation as ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence) to be promoted to a Captain from a Co-pilot, after a lot of flying, additional training, and tests. I have seen youngsters turn mature and worldly-wise by the time they complete CPL training—which not everyone who tries it can do. That is because of the following reasons:
Pilots need to be fit, to begin with, must prove their fitness annually, and, after the age of 60, every six months. Thanks to that sword (since we are dealing with doctors here, shall we call it a syringe?) hanging over the head, one has to be careful throughout.
A pilot must pass exams in many myriad subjects. They are: Air Regulations, Aviation Meteorology, Air Navigation, Technical General, Technical specific to the aircraft, Radio Telephony, and English language. And passing marks are not 33%, but 70%.
It is not only the written exams. There are viva voce tests too. In the Radio Telephony oral, the examiner asked me, “Why does the table fan rotate clockwise and a ceiling fan anti-clockwise?” When I looked up in despair, he thought I was looking at the fan, but I was looking for God in His heaven! Yes, I passed even that viva!
Finally, in addition to all the theories, one must also be able to fly a plane. That’s not really for everyone.
The cadet program of an airline costs over a crore (10 million) Rupees. That requires an education loan and repayment in EMIs over decades, after—and if—one gets a job. Many waited years to get an airline job, and there are 3000 jobless pilots in India now.
After getting the basic CPL, one needs Type Rating training on any of the two popular commercial aircraft, Boeing 737, or Airbus 320, at an additional cost. When you choose one type, you make yourself ineligible for the airlines which do not fly that aircraft. That’s akin to being an eye specialist, but only of the left eye! And with such super-specialization, job opportunities—without experience—are extremely limited.
In many professions, you get weeks, if not months, to make a decision. A pilot usually has only a few seconds. Yet, the punishments for errors are swift and harsh, because the mistakes get highlighted in full media glare. In Bollywood, they say, ‘You’re as good as your last film.’ In flying, I say, ‘You’re as good as your last landing.’
But they make one film per year. And a pilot lands 3 or 4 times a day! For years, I have done 5 landings in a workday stretching 12 hours, from noon to midnight. With delays plus weather, imagine how demanding and exhausting that was.
No Second Chance
In this job, there is no undo, no delete, and no pardon. Even a minor mistake can cause loss of lives, loss of reputation, and a loss of livelihood. An actor may survive a few flops and a cricketer a few ducks, averaging it with earlier successes. But a pilot isn’t allowed a single mistake, for there’s never a second chance.
Pilots’ working hours are odd and change daily, mostly with minimum mandated rest in between. And I have often worked 9 to 5.
“No big deal. I do that daily,” you say? Well, I mean 9 PM to 5 AM! How’s that?
Also, we have no weekends, and get only the eighth day off. And that could be in some faraway hotel, not at home. Add to that the jet-lag after international flights. No wonder the stress levels are high, causing invisible yet irreparable damage to health. I know. I suffered, and recovered, and soldiered on. But for how long? I don’t know.
Here’s a quote: ‘You envy my shoes because they look so nice and shine so well. Do you know where they pinch me?’
This article was first published on Indiatimes.
MoCA Introduces UDAN 5.1 To Bolster Connectivity Through Helicopters In Remote Areas
In a bid to bolster connectivity and ensure seamless access to remote areas across the nation, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, on May 24, unveiled UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) 5.1. Building upon the success of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)- UDAN through four previous rounds, and with the ongoing implementation of the fifth round (version 5.0), the latest initiative takes a stride forward by incorporating helicopters to achieve last-mile connectivity.
According to an official statement, for the first time under RCS-UDAN, this round is designed specifically for helicopter routes. UDAN 5.1 introduces several notable features to enhance connectivity and accessibility across the country.
One key update is the expanded operational scope for operators, allowing routes where either the origin or destination location falls within a priority area. Previously, both points had to be in priority areas to qualify.
Additionally, the scheme has reduced airfare caps by up to 25% to make helicopter travel more affordable for passengers. Moreover, the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) caps for operators utilising single and twin-engine helicopters have been significantly increased. Viability Gap Funding (VGF) caps (subsidy) for the operators have been improved “substantially” for both single and twin-engine helicopters to enhance financial viability for operating the awarded routes.
These adjustments are designed to improve the financial viability of operating the awarded routes, encouraging more operators to participate in the scheme and contribute to better connectivity throughout the nation.
Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation and Steel said, "The latest round of UDAN scheme is a testament to two emerging phenomena in Indian civil aviation - one, a deeper democratisation of air travel with a focus on last-mile connectivity. Second, a growing appetite for helicopters to aid tourism. Greater helicopter penetration through such efforts will help boost tourism, hospitality, and thus, our local economies."
Focus on Helicopter Operations
UDAN 5.1, developed after consultations with stakeholders including helicopter operators, aims to provide last-mile connectivity and boost the Indian civil aviation industry's helicopter segment.
The current version of the scheme has been designed after consultations with all stakeholders including helicopter operators. While the intended target is to provide last-mile connectivity, it is also projected to give the helicopter segment of the Indian civil aviation industry a much-needed boost, the release said. To date, 46 helicopter routes have been operationalised under previous rounds of the scheme, benefitting several hilly and North East states. The release further said that This round targets coverage of a much larger number of routes. At present, there are only around 280 civilian choppers in India which are used in various sectors.
Under the UDAN scheme passengers have received the benefit of air connectivity, airlines have received concessions for operating regional routes, and unserved regions have received the direct and indirect benefits of air connectivity for their economic development. The present version of the scheme will be another step towards the Prime Minister's vision of allowing the common man to travel by air at affordable fares to remote destinations of the country.
The UDAN scheme has recently been completed for five years. The scheme was initiated in October 2016 to fulfil the aspirations of the common citizen, with an enhanced aviation infrastructure and air connectivity in tier II and tier III cities.
The government has approved the ‘Revival of unserved and under-served airports’ scheme for the revival and development of 100 unserved and under-served airports, helipads and water aerodromes by 2024. It is an ongoing scheme where bidding rounds are conducted occasionally to cover more destinations or stations and routes.