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India to develop first home-grown civil plane

India has initiated steps to build its first indigenous civilian transport aircraft under a public-private partnership project that will be undertaken in a national mission mode.

New Delhi: India has initiated steps to build
its first indigenous civilian transport aircraft under a
public-private partnership project that will be undertaken in
a national mission mode.

Government has set up a 15-member high-power committee
(HPC) on National Civil Aircraft Development with former ISRO
chief G Madhavan Nair as its Chairman for management and
development of the key project.
The first meeting of the core team of the committee
comprising technologists is scheduled to be held tomorrow at
the National Aerspace Laboratory (NAL) in Bangalore to chart
out a broad vision for the project, officials said.

The HPC will carry out a feasibility study for the
project to be set up as a public-private partnership that is expected
to evolve eventually into a new entity for development of a
national civil transport aircraft and provide a basis for
civil aircraft industry in the country.

"We are looking at developing a 90-100 seater civilian
aircraft utilising nationally available talent and industry
resources," a senior official involved with the project told

This development comes weeks after the Directorate
General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said there was no technical
flaw in the Saras aircraft. The Prototype-II of Saras
aircraft, developed by CSIR`s NAL, had crashed during a test
flight on March 6 last year killing the three-member crew.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-NAL
will assist the HPC in implementation of the project.
The terms of reference of the HPC include evolving a
strategy for development of a civil aircraft indigenously;
provide details on aircraft definition and performance,
technologies and system, manufacturing plan, investments
required, risk analysis and holding discussions with global
original equipment manufacturers for partnership avenues.

The HPC has also been tasked to set up a core design
group with seeding from CSIR-NAL which could be subsequently
upgraded to a full-fledged Design Centre.

The Design Centre will be set up by drawing manpower from
CSIR-NAL, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Aeronautic
Development Authority, Defence Research and Development
Organisation and Indian Space Research Organisation.

Earlier, the NAL had prepared a preliminary report on the
need for a regional transport aircraft for the Indian market
which is pegged at 400 planes over the next 20 years.

The aircraft is aimed at enhancing connectivity within
the country, thereby helping in the economic development of
the far-flung regions.

The Planning Commission had made an allocation of Rs 300
crore for the civilian aircraft project in the 11th Plan.

In October 2008, the Comptroller and Auditor General of
India (CAG) had told the NAL to defer plans to make a
70-seater passenger plane on account of delayed progress on
its 15-seater Saras aircraft.

"Keeping in view the problems faced by NAL in HANSA and
SARAS projects relating to marketing of the aircrafts,
difficulties in finding an industrial partner and lack of
specialised manpower, NAL may review initiation of the new
project for development of a 70-seater aircraft," the CAG had


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