Seaplanes are indeed objects of wonder, for its capacity to manoeuvre through both air and water. And this Sunday, a seaplane designed and developed entirely in India will have its first trial run ever!
Father-son duo from Kochi, Shabel and Godson D’souza have built a six-seater aircraft that will soon take off from city’s backwaters.
While Godson has designed the plane, Shabel along with his employees worked hard for almost a month to erect the flying machine in their welding workshop in Ponnarimangalam near Bolgatty.
“It took us 20 days to build this craft. Only 30 per cent of its body will touch water, and the remaining 70 per cent will be above water level,” Shabel told Times of India.
The seaplane is fitted with the engine of a Maruti Omni car and has a maximum speed of 100 km per hour. This comes as an advantage, for regular boats cannot operate at such an elevated speed in the backwaters.
Weighing close to a tonne, the plane is fully air-conditioned and has four-geared functionality. Also, airtight bows attached on the wings of the craft helps in maintaining the balance. But the seaplane wasn’t some random innovation. After a bout of trials, prototypes, and insight, did they create the final craft.
“As the first step, we built a prototype of a vessel using ACP sheet and conducted a trial run. We found that the vessel was weightless and it did not sink. This gave us the confidence to build a seaplane using ACP sheet, steel frames and fibre coating,” said Godson.
Godson’s friend Neil Alex, who is a naval architect, also played a great role in assisting the duo throughout the process of building the plane.
They are now waiting for the completion of the trials, post success of which, they can approach Cochin Port Trust and Ports departments for permission to operate the seaplane in the backwaters.
However, they aren’t sure if they can pursue commercial operations with the seaplane. “We will not be able to take tourists on it. We can use it ourselves or sell it. We are continuing our efforts to obtain these sanctions for taking tourists,” added Shabel.