Jet Airways comeback: First phase of proving flights completed

Planning to restart flying in full swing, India’s long-grounded carrier, Jet Airways has, operated its first phase of three proving flights between Delhi and Mumbai on May 15. Jet Airways, which ceased operations in April 2019, is on track to resume operations under the ownership of the Jalan-Kalrock Consortium. The airline conducted its initial set of proving flights with around five hours of flying and three landings on May 15, Sunday. The new promoters of Jet Airways are heading closer to revalidating their Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), which allows them to commence commercial flights.

Operation of proving flights

As a crucial step to obtain AOC from aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), Jet Airways operated a principal set of three proving flights on Sunday carrying 18 people- four cabin crew, two pilots, and 12 others, including airline executives and senior DGCA authorities. The airline used Boeing 737 aircraft registered VT-SXE for flight verification purposes.

While the aircraft operated the first of three proving flights on the Delhi-Mumbai route, the next flight was diverted to Ahmedabad instead of the scheduled Delhi route. As per the direction of DGCA, pilots diverted the plane to check the readiness of the new airline to handle such events. After a safe landing in Ahmedabad, the last flight was undertaken on the Ahemdabad-Delhi route.

The final phase of proving flights on May 17

The full-service carrier Jet Airways is conducting the final phase of two proving flights on May 17 to complete the process for its flying permit revalidation. DGCA requires an airline to conduct a minimum of five flight sectors on intended routes to complete its proving flights. The total flight duration of these five flights (landings) should not be less than 10 hours. It means Jet Airways has to operate the remaining set of two-odd landings and nearly five hours of flying to successfully complete the process on May 17.

The proposed routes for the remaining phase of proving flights are either long the Delhi-Bengaluru-Delhi or Delhi-Hyderabad-Delhi. For the last demonstration flights, Jet Airways will deploy two pilots, four cabin crew, and some passengers comprising airline staff and DGCA officials on board the same Boeing 737 aircraft used in previous flights.

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The necessity of proving flights

A proving flight is an important step of DGCA’s process. The airplane is set to fly multiple times to allow the air operator to demonstrate the capability to the aviation regulator to operate the flight safely while complying with all rules and regulations laid down by DGCA.

Proving flight is a part of DGCA’s procedure to obtain a flying permit as well as induct a new aircraft variant into a carrier’s fleet. The demonstration flight (proving flight) can be conducted on one or more intended destinations of the carrier and may encompass one diversion to either an en-route alternate airport or destination alternative. In proving flights, the operator must carry non-revenue passengers like representatives of the regulator and airline staff as regular commercial passengers. Both pilots and cabin crew must demonstrate excellent operational knowledge during this type of flight, such as medical emergencies, in-flight smoke, navigation failure, etc. Upon successfully completing proving flights, DGCA grants Air Operator’s certificate within weeks.

Jet Airways will likely have its AOC revalidated this week as the remainder of proven flights is being operated today. DGCA will determine the exact date of revalidation of the flying permit.

Revival of Jet Airways

Jet Airways made a test flight on May 5 on its 29th birthday after a gap of three years to ensure the aircraft’s safety. A 15-year-old Boeing 737-800 aircraft took off to the skies from Hyderabad and performed a 90-minute test flight, catching industry attention.

Jet Airways is set in motion to commence operation in the July-September quarter this year. Once it obtains the AOC, it will resume scheduled services again. Regarding aircraft acquisition, the new owners are in discussion with multiple aircraft lessors and aircraft manufacturers for adding the aircraft to Jet Airways fleet over the next 3-5 years. Initially, it may serve as a full-service domestic carrier using six aircraft. It is likely to pursue a hybrid two-in-one business model to accommodate both business and economy passengers.

Although restarting an airline is a complex exercise, Jet Airways moves steam ahead to launch its commercial operations and deliver safe and quality services to air travelers in India and abroad. Six years back, Jet Airways was India’s second-largest airline and was later challenged by the emergence and proliferation of powerful competitors before it was forced to cease operations in 2019 due to a cash crunch.

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