Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ahmedabad Airport customs delayed Solar Impulse takeoff by two hours, pilots "upset"

By Our Representative
"Customs clearance" at the Ahmedabad airport delayed the take off of the Solar Impulse plane by nearly two hours on March 17-18 night. Soon after the delay, tweets began to pound taking strong exception to the way Indian customs behave. They quoted the pilot Andre Borschberg that "bureaucratic delays" held up the flight plan of the solar plane from Ahmedabad to Varanasi. The Solar Impulse website has confirmed the delay due to "customs issues".
One of the Tweets by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, for instance, said, "Shameful but who's bothered?" Another, by Govind Etheraj, said, "Man can fly an aircraft powered by the sun, but can't beat Indian customs, reminder of limits of technology." The Swiss aircraft finally took off from Ahmedabad 7:20 am, heading from India to Myanmar with a stopover at Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency.
http://www.solarimpulse.com/rtw
A cartoon put up on Solar Impulse website "protesting" customs delay
According to reports, the delay "frustrated some members of the plane's crew", with one of the pilots Bertrand Piccard, writing on the Twitter, "If there is no adventure in the future, it is not because of a lack of ideas, but because of excessive administration." The distance of over 1,000 kilometres to Varanasi is expected to take 15 hours, reaching there late in the evening, at around 9 pm.
Earlier, Solar Impulse was due to leave Ahmedabad on Sunday, but cloudy weather and rains twice delayed its departure. The aircraft is attempting a 35,000-kilometre journey without using fossil fuel with the aim of promoting the use of clean technologies. Its arrival in Ahmedabad was interpreted by the officialdom in India as a "recognition" of huge encouragement supposedly given to solar technology in Gujarat under Modi's rule, which lasted till he became Prime Minister last year.
The pilot waits for customs clearance
Before the customs issues cropped up to delay the flight to takeoff, the Solar Impulse website said, "Solar Impulse will take off for its third flight from Ahmedabad (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, AMD/VAAH) in the Republic of India, to Varanasi (Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport, VNS/VIBN) in the Republic of India. The pilot will fly the zero-fuel airplane on about 1127.9km (609NM) for an estimated time of 15 hours. Maximum altitude on the flight will be 5180 meters."
It underlined, "Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago, and today is used by André Borschberg while flying Si2. He and Bertrand Piccard use the opportunity to talk about clean technologies among Gujarat's rapid technical innovation."

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