On 18 February, 1911 the first commercial civil aviation
flight took place in India between Allahabad and Naini, a distance of 6
miles when Henri Piquet carried 6500 mails on a Humber biplane. This is
considered to be the world’s first airmail service and the beginning of
civil aviation in India.
In December 1912, the Indian State Air Services in
collaboration with UK based Imperial Airways introduced the London -Karachi
– Delhi flight, the first International flight to and from India.
In 1915 Tata Sons Ltd. started regular air mail services
between Karachi and Madras and o n J a nu a ry 2 4 , 192 0 R o y a l
Airforce started re g u l a r airmail services between Karachi andBombay.
Construction of Civil Airports in India started in 1924.
Constructions began in Calcutta at Dum Dum, Allahabad at Bamrauli and in
Bombay in Gilbert Hill.
April 1927 saw the setting up of a separate Department of
Civil Aviation to look after all civil aviation matters. That year also saw
the establishment of Aero Club of India.
In Februa ry 1929, JR D Tata was awarded t h e fir st
pilot license by Federation Aeronautique International on behalf of the Aero
Club of India and Burma. The same year Aga Khan announced a solo air race
between London and Bombay. There were three participants - JRD Tata, Man
Mohan Singh and Aspy Merchant. The race was won by Man Mohan Singh.
Lt.Col. Shelmerdine was appointed first Director general
of Civil Aviation(DGCA) in 1931 to look after civil aviation regulatory
In 1932 Tata Airlines came to being as a division of Tata
Sons Limited. It started Air Mail services on the Karachi, Ahmedabad,
Bombay, Bellary, Madras routes on 15 October. The same year, 1932 also saw
the first Indian woman, Urmila K. Parikh get a pilot’s license.
Between 1933 and 1934 a number of Indian airlines –
Indian Trans Continental Airways, Madras Air Taxi Services, Indian National
Airways etc., commenced operations.
The Indian Aircraft Act was promulgated in 1934 and was
formulated in 1937.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) set up by Walchand
Hirachand in association with the then Mysore Government in 1940 at
India’s first aircraft, the Harlow trainer was rolled out
for test flight in July 1941.
In 1945 the Deccan Airways was founded - jointly owned by
the Nizam of Hyderabad and Tata s. It s first flight began in July 19 4 6.
In 1960, India entered the jet age with the introduction
of Boeing 707-437 into the fleet of Air India and USA was connected to India
for the first time by an Indian airline flight.
1985 also saw the establishment of Pawan Hans Helicopters
Limited (PHHL) and the establishment of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy
(IGRUA) in Fursatganj, RaiBareli in Uttar Pradesh for training of pilots.
The National Airports Authority was constituted in 1986.
In 1989, Indian Airlines became one of the earliest airline of the world to
induct A320s type of aircraft from the Airbus company.
1990-91 saw the entry of private airlines after the
de-regulation of the civil aviation sector. Private airlines were given
permission to operate charter and non-scheduled services under the ‘Air
Taxi’ Scheme. The East West Airlines was the first national level private
airline to operate in the country after almost 37 years.
In 1990 Captain Nivedita Bhasin of Indian Airlines at 26
became the youngest pilot in civil aviation history to command a jet
aircraft. She also became the first woman check pilot on an Airbus A300
1990 was also a land-mark year for Indian civil aviation
and Air India when Air India entered the Guinness Book of World Records for
largest evacuation effort by a single civilian airline when it flew
over1,11,000 people from Amman to Mumbai in 59 days operating 488 flights
just before the Gulf war began.
In 1994, following the repeal of the Air Corporation Act
private airlines were permitted to operate scheduled services and a number
of private players including Jet Airways, Air Sahara, Modiluft, Damania
Airways, NEPC Airlines and East West Airlines commenced domestic operations.
In 1995 Airport Authority of India (AAI) was constituted
after the merging of the International Airport Authority of India with
National Airports Authority.
In 2008 the path breaking Greenfield Airports Policy of
the Government was announced.
To regulate the economic aspects of airports, the
Parliament passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) Bill and
the AERA was set up in 2009.
At present India is the 9th largest aviation market in
the world with 82 operational airports, 735 aircraft, 12 operational
scheduled airlines and 121 non-scheduled operators. The number of air
passengers travelling in India is expected to cross 50 million this year.
First Private Airport came up in the country in Cochin, Kerala in 1998.
In 1984 Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma of Indian Air Force
becomes the first Indian cosmonaut and the 138th man in space spending 8 days in
space abroad Salyut 7.
In 1948 Prem Mathur became the first woman commercial pilot
and started flying for Deccan Airways. She obtained her commercial pilot’s
license in 1947.
In 1956 Ms. Durba Banerjee was inducted as the first woman
pilot of Indian Airlines.
In 1998 Dr. Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-born woman
to fly to space as part of a NASA team.