Modi waving from seaplane
Narendra Modi waves to the crowd from the sea-plane, in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Santosh Hirlekar
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A closer examination of the history and origin of the aircraft he flew in reveals some interesting details, and raises questions.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew around in a seaplane on the last day of the Gujarat election campaign Tuesday and made headlines, with some incorrectly calling it India’s first seaplane ride.

A closer examination of the history and origin of the aircraft he flew in reveals some interesting details, and raises questions.

The aircraft is a fixed-wing, single-engine, 10-seater Kodiak 100 manufactured by the Quest Aircraft Company. Quest, based in Idaho, is owned by the Japanese Setouchi Holdings.

Kodiak 100 is the only product the Quest Aircraft Company manufactures. SpiceJet recently signed a $400 million deal with Quest to buy 100 amphibian aircraft as part of the ambitious Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) programme.

The aircraft which Modi used, identified by its call sign N181KQ, landed in Mumbai on 3 December, and left Juhu for Ahmedabad on 11 December. It was said to have flown in from Karachi.

The flight logs of this particular aircraft show it has been across the globe. FlightAware records state that the plane made stops in New Zealand, Indonesia and Muscat before going to Karachi. FlightRadar tracked the plane in Greece at the start of December, before flying to Al Qassim in Saudi Arabia and Al Ain in the UAE, before landing in Karachi.

The seaplane landed in Hyderabad at 10 pm Tuesday and remained there Wednesday.

Details about the ownership of the seaplane are still unclear. The plane is listed as owned by the Bank of Utah. The Bank of Utah provides aircraft owner trustee services for US and non-US citizens and corporations. The call sign (N181KQ) indicates the aircraft is US-registered.

The aircraft’s registration details, as listed on FlightAware.

According to Federal Aviation Administration rules, N-registration is allowed through owner trusts like the Bank of Utah, whether the beneficiary of the trust is a US citizen or not. The Bank of Utah does not purchase assets, lend money to acquire any assets, or control operations: its only role is that of a trustee in aircraft ownership.

The aircraft was manufactured in May 2016 and was entrusted to the Bank of Utah on 20 August 2016— but the ownership of the seaplane remains a bit of a mystery.

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