Only in ANI: Civilians fly in a defence aircraft

665 sorties < 6206 passengers < Carnic, C/Bay most benefited
Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
18 Sep 2018

In a landmark move introduced for the first time in the country, the Dornier aircraft services of the Andaman and Nicobar Command has benefited more than 6000 passengers in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) since its launch in 2016. Meant solely for use of defence forces, IAF aircraft fly civilians only during cases of emergency, but this is an exception. After approval by the Ministry of Defence, the Andaman and Nicobar Command in collaboration with the UT Administration launched the Dornier 228 aircraft services in August 2016 between Port Blair, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay. With over 665 sorties carried out till date, the imitative has benefited thousands of islanders, including patients in the southern group of islands.
As per records of the Tri-Services Command, around 6206 civilians have availed the Dornier services for inter-island travel since 2016. More than 665 sorties have been carried out by IAF’s Dornier 228 aircraft till date for civilian services. The Department of Civil Aviation put the figures at 6000. “Approximately 6000 passengers have been benefited by the Dornier services of the armed forces in the southern group. With a passenger capacity of 10, around 312 trips were carried out between Port Blair-Car Nicobar-Campbell Bay. Besides, 4 helicopters of Pawan Hans operating in different sectors have contributed significantly in providing air connectivity in these Islands. Plans are afoot to augment air services under the UDAAN scheme launched by the Union Government recently,” said a senior official of the Civil Aviation Department.   “Amid heavy rush for helicopter tickets, introduction of IAF’s Dornier services has immensely benefited residents in the southern group of these Islands. With preference accorded to government employees in chopper services, residents from remote pockets here now have an option to travel by air on a defence aircraft. Besides medical emergency, the Dornier services have come handy for the population here-be it government or any private works. With simplified reservation procedure for tickets and two sorties in a week, the Dornier 228 aircraft services has become a boon for residents in Car Nicobar, Campbell Bay and other areas in the Nicobar District,” said some villagers of Car Nicobar.
Following persistent efforts of the former Lt. Governor of these Islands, Lt. General AK Singh (retd), the Defence ministry approved use of the defence aircraft for civilian use. The service was introduced in the month of August 2016. Subsidized airfares for islanders collected from passengers is paid to air force based on the number of flying hours.  The services are available twice a week on every Monday and Friday and for reservation of tickets at Port Blair, passengers are required to submit their application to the Assistant Secretary (GA), A&N Administration, Secretariat, Port Blair at least 02 days in advance for reservation of tickets. The passenger list from the General Administration section is to reach Directorate of Civil Aviation by 11.00 am on a day prior to scheduled departure of each flight for issuances of tickets. At Car Nicobar, passengers are required to submit their application at the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Nicobar for reservation of tickets. At Campbell Bay, passengers are required to submit their application at the Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Campbell Bay for reservation of tickets. The aircraft ferries 10 passengers and each passenger is allowed to carry a maximum of 10 kgs registered baggage free of cost.   The Dornier 228 aircraft is a State-of-the-Art, twin engine turbo-prop aircraft, which can cruise at a speed of 200 kts. The aircraft is fitted with all modern avionics and being widely used for executive transport by the Indian Air force. The A&N Administration launched the service to augment the air-transport capacity to Nicobar District.