India could join by 2020, if not earlier, the select group of countries that manufacture aircraft.
A committee, comprising top bureaucrats, aerospace scientists and industry leaders, recently submitted a report to the Prime Minister’s Office, which says the country has the technical capability to make a project to design and develop a regional aircraft with a seating capacity of 70 to 90 that would be stretchable to 80-100 seats.
The panel, headed by the former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, G. Madhavan Nair, and Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Samir Brahmachari has estimated that the project could cost about Rs. 7,700 crore — Rs. 4,500 crore for the design and development activities and Rs. 3,200 crore for the production unit.
The committee, which has as its member the just retired Cabinet Secretary, K.M. Chandrasekhar, has suggested that the government bear the entire cost of design and development and set up a joint venture with the participation of the private sector for establishing a production facility.
Dr. Brahmachari told reporters that the panel, after detailed discussions that included interactions with the Israeli Aerospace Agency and a Swedish company, recommended that it could be a narrow-body turbo fan aircraft.
The aim was to have an aircraft that would require a shorter runway for take-off and landing and at the same time be able to fly non-stop for about 2,500 km. The idea was to ensure direct connectivity among as many centres as possible in the country.
The CSIR’s Bangalore-based National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) would take care of the design and development activities. It had recruited 85 engineers over the past one year for the project and 300 more would be brought in as the project progressed. “We are confident that we will have the prototype ready in five years for test-flight from the time we get clearances,” Dr. Brahmachari said adding that many international players had shown keen interest in the project. Hindu