A look into Airplanes Operated by Maldives National Security Service (NSS) in the 1980s
It was in the early 1970s then President Ibrahim Nasir began keen on establishing an air transportation system connecting the Maldives internationally.
The early 1970s saw the opening of the first resort in the Maldives and there was a dire need for a quicker transportation system for tourists and foreigners employed in the Maldives.
President Ibrahim Nasir sought assistance from the government of Sri Lanka in 1972 to set up air travel between the two countries. Heli Tours of Ceylon and later Air Ceylon began operating flights to the Maldives.
Seeing the heavy demand and the revenue made from these flights, the government of Maldives went on to establish the first national flag carrier, Air Maldives.
As Air Maldives continued commercial passenger services in the country, the Maldives government sought assistance from the Sri Lankan Air force to manage and operate aircraft acquired by the National Security Service (NSS).
At the time the NSS had 2 Piper Seneca, 1 Piper Cherokee 180, 1 Cessna 172, and 1 Bell 47 J2 Helicopter.
All the aircraft were maintained and flown by former Sri Lankan Airforce pilots and engineers as at the time Maldives lacked locally trained professionals.
VIP flights and Search and Rescue flights were primarily operated using these aircraft.
With the growth in aviation and witnessing its potential, the NSS funded pilot training programs for locals which created the first licensed pilots of the Maldives.
The NSS and the establishment of Air Maldives paved way for the growth of the aviation industry in the Maldives which picked up momentum in the 1990s and has since expanded rapidly.
There are close to 90 aircraft operated in 4 airlines with hundreds of local pilots, engineers, flight attendants and etc.
At present, MNDF Air Wing whose primary purpose is to protect and safeguard the Maldivian Airspace, operates with a Maritime Patrol Dornier Do 228 aircraft and with HAL Dhruv Search and Rescue/Utility helicopter.
Although even today, the first two pilots trained by the NSS are still working as pilots in the Maldives, the MNDF fleet is entirely operated and maintained by the Indian Navy.
The NSS Fleet:
Piper PA-34 Seneca
The Piper PA-34 Seneca is a twin-engine aircraft capable of carrying up to six passengers and can cruise at 25,000ft with a cruising speed of 188 kn (348 km).
The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a two-seat or four-seat aircraft designed for flight training, and short-haul flights.
The aircraft has a service ceiling of 14,300ft and can cruise at 123 kn (228 km/h)
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is four-seat, single-engine aircraft which is the most successful aircraft in the world with 44,000 Cessna 172’s build.
The 172 can accommodate up to three passengers and has a service ceiling of 13,500ft and can cruise at 122 kn (226 km/h).
Bell 47 J2 Helicopter
The Bell 47J Ranger is an American single-engine single-rotor light helicopter that was an executive variant of the highly successful Bell 47. It is also the first helicopter to carry a United States president.