Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quite chuffed about his landing on the Sabarmati river on a seaplane. He tweeted: “Earlier today, I travelled on a seaplane from Ahmedabad's Sabarmati River to Dharoi Dam, taking off and landing on water. This experience was unique. It adds strength to our resolve to harness waterways for India's progress.” But, did the flight violate regulations set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation?
The DGCA website’s sole air safety circular (ASC) on VIP air travel is dated 2002. The link is dead, and an explanation is given: “ASC 02 of 2002 - Travel by helicopter by VIP protectees - confirmation of coordinates of take off /landing place. (Cancelled - information contained in ASC 2 of 2014)”.
ASC 2 of 2014, issued on March 24, 2014, says that the instructions are being issued to safeguard “VIPs, SPG-protected persons and other important persons of eminence in public life [who] use air travel frequently for electioneering and other purposes....” In the second paragraph, it points out that these “instructions [had been] violated time and again and safety was jeopardised”. So, the ASC stresses that the instructions are being repeated "so that the same are followed meticulously for ensuring safe operation of small aircraft/helicopters”.
Clause 2.4.2 of the ASC says that “Type of aircraft/helicopter for carriage of VIPs shall be in accordance with Air Safety Circular 2 of 1981 and MHA guidelines.” And, clause 1.1 of ASC 2 of 1981 describes the criteria for VIP aircraft: “Twin-engined aircraft with good operational capability, reliability, and easy maintainability characteristics should be used.”
The prime minister flew in on a single-engine Kodiak 100, registered (No. N181KQ) in Salt Lake City, US. A lone Pratt & Whitney engine powers the 10-seater, fixed-wing amphibian.
The controversial AgustaWestland helicopter deal was being considered by the UPA government for this one reason—twin engines.