Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 05 December 2022

Wet-leasing of aircraft allowed

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The civil aviation ministry has allowed Indian airlines to take wide-body planes on wet-lease for up to one year as it pursues efforts to make the country a key international hub for air traffic. The rules were relaxed, allowing airlines to wet-lease wide-body planes for a year based on specific requests, as opposed to the six months currently.

What is wet-leasing?

  1. According to OAG Aviation, the technical term for wet-leasing is ACMI, which stands for aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance.
  2. This means the airline leasing the plane from another carrier gets not just the vehicle, but also its crew, maintenance staff and insurance, but has to cover operating costs, such as fuel and airport fees, on its own.
  3. On the other hand, dry leasing means that the airline leases only the vehicle and uses its own staff to run and maintain it.
  4. There is also a middle ground called damp leasing, wherein the airline wet-leases a plane, but uses its own cabin crew.

Why do airlines wet-lease?

  1. Airlines rely on wet-leasing when they want to ensure smooth operations during peak times, to deal with delays, or as a means of testing new routes.
  2. Wet-lease aircraft also serve as a means of reducing service disruption in the event of unforeseen situations such as a lack of available crew or technical faults, and to counter potential surges in airfares.
  3. Wet-leasing allows them to avoid massive lumpsum payments that upfront purchases involve.


Operational guidelines for drone PLI scheme

GS Paper -2 (Development processes)

The civil aviation ministry has notified the operational guidelines for the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components. The government has approved an outlay of Rs 120 crore and the scheme is to be implemented during the 2022-23 to 2024-25 period.

More about the news:

  1. The guidelines have been finalised after consultations with stakeholders, including industry representatives.
  2. The scheme aims to make India a drone hub by 2030 by establishing an indigenous ecosystem that is transparently regulated and has manufacturing and IT-linked service capabilities.
  3. The scheme will be extended only to companies engaged in the manufacturing of dronesand drone components in India.
  4. The total PLI per manufacturer is capped at Rs 30 crore which is 25 per cent of the total financial outlay of Rs 120 crore.
  5. Indian MSMEs and start-ups manufacturing dronesand having annual sales turnover of Rs 2 crore will be eligible for the scheme. In the case of drone component makers, the eligibility threshold will be Rs 0.5 crore.
  6. As per the ministry, for Indian non-MSMEs that are into making drones, the annual sales turnover requirement will be Rs. 4 crore for claiming the PLIs. The minimum level will be Rs 1 crore in the case of non-MSME drone component makers.

Who will look over the process?

  1. The Project Management Agency (PMA) appointed by the ministry will appraise the applications.
  2. committee chaired by the civil aviation secretary will consider the applications as recommended by the PMA.
  3. An Empowered Group of Secretarieschaired by the Cabinet Secretary, will monitor the scheme and take appropriate action to ensure that the expenditure is within the prescribed outlay as approved by the Union Cabinet.


To promote drone industry:

  1. The liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 were released to create a growth-oriented regulatory framework for drones and to make India a global hub for research and development, testing, manufacturing, and operation of dronesunder the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  2. In January 2022, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) notified the drone certification schemeto streamline and speed up the process of certification – an objective of the 2021 Drone Rules.
  3. The government released the drone airspace map for India and the National Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) Policy Framework.


Rhino and elephant conservation efforts

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

Greens worldwide called the Kaziranga National Park the greatest conservation success story in 2005 when it completed a century. Much of it is attributed to a rhino protection force that shoots alleged poachers at sight; more than 55 armed men have been killed within the boundary of the 1,300 sq. km tiger reserve for unauthorised entry since 2012-13.

One-horned rhino population

  1. The population of the one-horned rhino was about a dozen when Kaziranga became a protected area in 1905.
  2. According to the State of Rhino Report 2022, the poor-sighted herbivore’s number in Kaziranga is an estimated 2,613, more than 65% of its total population of 4,014 across 11 habitats in India and Nepal. A decade ago, the rhino’s population in these domains was 2,454.
  3. Conservationists say the focus is too much on the rhino, has made other animals in its domains a beneficiary.
  4. The number of tigers, for instance, has increased in Assam at a rate higher than elsewhere in India. A 2010 count said Kaziranga has the highest density of tigers — 32.64 per 100 sq. km — in the world.

How anti-poaching measures helped?

  1. According to an Assam-based rhino expert, the strengthening of the anti-poaching mechanism in India and Nepal with more manpower, capacity-building of frontline staff and equipping forest guards with better fighting gears have helped protect the rhino.
  2. The sentiments of local people attached to the rhino have also been a factor in the sharp drop in the number of rhinos killed, from 54 in 2013 and 2014 to one each in 2021 and 2022.
  3. The threat from poachers cannot be wished away because of the illegal wildlife trade in next-door Myanmar and beyond in Southeast Asia.
  4. Alien invasive plant species grabbing key grassland habitats in rhino-bearing areas in the past decade has emerged as a bigger threat to the animal in India and Nepal.

Asian elephant’s status:

  1. India is home to nearly 60% Asian elephants and the last count of the species in 2017 had put the number at 29,964.
  2. Though the number of elephants in India has increased in the past few years, the species is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species and Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act.

Measures taken:

  1. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched Project Elephant in 1992 to ensure the long-term survival of elephants in their natural habitats.
  2. The number of elephant reserves in India is 32 with the latest addition being the Agasthyamalai Elephant Reserve in 2022.
  3. Elephant corridors and linear narrow habitat linkagesthat allow elephants to move between secure habitats are crucial for conservationAbout 101 elephant corridors have been identified in the country, which need to be secured for conservation of elephants.


GROWTH India discovered Black Hole

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

Himalayan telescope in Ladakh and a group of Indian astronomers have alerted the world about the death screams of a dying star, which was torn apart by a supermassive Black Hole at a distance of 12.5 billion light years away - more than halfway across the Universe.

More about the news

  1. Though the rare cosmic event that generated the most powerful flash from the farthest ever detected – it is more than 1,000 trillion times more luminous than the Sun – was observed by a network of telescopes in four continents and from space.
  2. It was the GROWTH-India telescope at Hanle that gave the first heads-up on the unusual nature of the flash to the astronomy community around the world within days of it being spotted.
  3. The story began with California-based Zwicky Transient Facility detecting a new source of a bright flash in the sky in the second week of February. Named AT2022cmc, it brightened rapidly and was fading fast.
  4. The astronomers observed the last tango of a dying star, which was being gobbled by a supermassive black hole, giving them ideas on what happens when a dying star flies too close to a supermassive Black Hole.
  5. Since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, what scientists observed happened in a young universe. “It is hard to estimate the details of the star that died (it became bright only because it was already torn apart), but it was probably a normal star, perhaps similar to even the mass of the Sun. Also, it did something weird," Bhalerao told DH.
  6. India’s uGMRT and Astrosat, as well as the VLA and Hubble Space Telescopes, were among the instruments that were used to study the celestial event. The results appeared in two research papers in Nature and Nature Astronomy.
  7. The GROWTH India data showed us that the source was special. Without such data we would probably not have undertaken these observations which revealed the extreme nature of this object.

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