Saturday, 2 July 2011

India To Fly Its Own 90-Seater Aircraft In 5 Years

India hopes to test fly its first indigenously-developed 90 seater regional transport aircraft in the next five years, a top official has said.

The 90-seater RTA will be developed as a team India initiative led by CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), which could also see some global participation, CSIR director general Samir Brahmachari said here today.

A committee headed by former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair submitted a feasibility study to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) recently in this regard.

The Committee, which had top bureaucrats and aerospace scientists as members, has suggested a two-pronged approach -- Design Development and Production Unit -- to realise the objective.

"The Committee has come to a conclusion that the RTA should be a narrow body turbo fan aircraft with a seating capacity for 70-90 persons and stretchable to 80-100 persons," Brahmachari said.

The total project cost is estimated at Rs 7,700 crore -- Rs 4,500 for the design and development stage and Rs 3,200 for the production unit, he said.

The Nair Committee has also suggested that the government pick up the entire tab for the design and development state and has favoured a joint venture route for setting up the production facility.

The panel has set a target of six-eight years for completion of the development and production stage of the project.

"We hope to have the prototype ready in the next five years assuming that the project takes off in 2012," Brahmachari said.

CSIR has recruited 85 engineers in Bangalore-based NAL for the design and development of the RTA, Brahmachari said, adding that there would be an additional requirement of at least 300 more engineers for the project.

He said discussions were still taking place on whether to involve the private sector at the design stage itself.

Discussions had also taken place with the Israel Aerospace Agency and a Swedish company while preparing the feasibility report for the project.

The report has also been submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has called for further consultations on the matter.

Brahmachari said the designing of the aircraft will be linked to small and medium enterprises sector which is already manufacturing some components for the aircraft industry.

"Such an approach would help reduce costs and will also help further develop the MSME sector," he said.

As per aviation market projections, the country will require about 500-600 regional aircraft, while the global market is estimated to be about 10-fold.

The aircraft will be capable of take-offs and landings on smaller runways making it fit for use on 85 per cent of the country's airports.

The aircraft will also have a low carbon footprint and capable of travelling 2,500 km in one go, Brahmachari said.

(source PTI)