Red tape hits green plane in Varanasi

Red tape hits green plane in Varanasi

Red tape hit the green plane yet again — this time in Varanasi, which was the last pit stop for the Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse-2 before leaving India.

The plane took off from Varanasi at 5:22 am for Mandalay in Myanmar. But the Solar Impulse team’s plan of flying over Ganga and photographing the unique aircraft in the backdrop of iconic ghats like Dashashwamedh and Manikarnika could not happen in the absence of permissions from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). While the Solar Impulse team made arrangements for a helicopter photo shoot of the green plane that runs on sunlight, the DGCA did not give the requisite permission, sources said.

Two permissions were required — from the local administration as well as from the DGCA. While the state authorities gave its approval in time, the plan had to be cancelled in the absence of the DGCA clearance. As the civil aviation regulator was to take approval from other agencies like the Home and Defence ministries, it is learnt, those approvals were not in place.

Before he took off on Thursday, Andre Borschberg, who piloted the green aircraft in the Varanasi-Mandalay leg and is an ardent follower of Indian yoga, walked over to the holy river early in the morning to experience the dawn in one of India’s most iconic and traditional cities.

In Ahmedabad, too, the Solar Impulse team experienced bureaucratic hurdles in the absence of the immigration stamp in the passport of Bertrand Piccard — the second explorer in the team. The duo plans to fly around the world in the solar-powered aircraft.

Piccard and Borschberg crossed the Sone river near Dehri-on-Sone, flew over Gaya and passed Chittagong in Bangladesh before landing in Mandalay. They would stay in Myanmar for two days before continuing their journey, travelling 35,000 kilometres around the globe accumulating 500 flight hours in 25 days spread over five months.

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