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India developing first civilian aircraft


NEW DELHI (PTI): India is developing its first civilian aircraft, which would be a 70 to 90-seater plane catering to the regional aviation market, and a feasibility study is currently on, a top scientist said Tuesday.

"We are looking at creating a Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) which would be 70 or a 90-seater. The feasibility study is being carried out now," M R Nayak, Advisor and Chief Scientist at the state-owned National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) said here.

A high-powered committee headed by former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G Madhavan Nair has already been set up to guide the project.

He said the aircraft would be developed through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Besides NAL which is the nodal agency for the project, the public sector firms participating in the project are HAL, DRDO, ISRP, BEL and ADA, while those in the private sector included HCL, QUEST, Infosys, Mahindras, L&T and Tata Group.

Nayak was speaking at a meeting of Indo-US aviation manufacturers, where Boeing India President Dinesh Keskar said the growing aviation market in the country had greatly enhanced the opportunities for businesses of both countries to collaborate in such projects.

Keskar said India would require 1,150 civilian planes, worth USD 130 billion, over the next two decades, and another USD 30 billion worth of military aircraft, missiles and other aerospace equipment.

The Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) is being developed to have a range of 800 kilometres, making it conducive for travel within India due to the close proximity of Tier-I and Tier-II cities.

Reports said as many as 400 RTAs were planned to be manufactured with half of them going to the armed forces. NAL was in discussions with global engine manufacturers including Pratt & Whitney of Canada and General Electric of US, and avionics firms like Rockwell Collins and Diehl Aerospace.

Addressing the meet, Aaron Wilkins, Indian representative of US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), stressed on joint efforts to enhance quality of Indian aviation sector processes and achieve standardisation of Indian equipment.

He said as many as 21 training programmes were being offered on aviation-related technical issues in the country under the US-India Aviation Cooperation Programme.

With fast-paced developments in aviation technology, DGCA was in the process of upgrading its process of certifying the new technologies, A K Saran, Joint Director General of the DGCA, said.

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