• Soon, a Made-in-India aircraft will be ferrying passengers

    A Made-in-India civilian aircraft could take to the skies as early as June 2017. The Dornier 228, a 19-seater, short take-off and landing aircraft, is undergoing modifications at the Kanpur unit of State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

    The development comes as a boost for the Centre’s Make in India programme and its Regional Connectivity Scheme.

    HAL already supplies Dornier 228 aircraft to the armed forces. The civilian version, which will have the same body structure as the military aircraft, will entail some modifications.

    “The civil Dornier 228 produced by HAL will have an increase in maximum take-off weight due to an increase in fuel to be carried, a more powerful engine, propeller blades made with composite material that will make them quieter, and a glass cockpit,” a senior government official told BusinessLine.

    These modifications will have to be certified by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), whose officials are monitoring the progress.

    The Dornier 228 was also used by Vayudoot, the now-defunct state-owned regional airline that connected more than 100 small airports in the country between 1980 and 1990.

    Air India has indicated that it could initially acquire at least 10 such aircraft to operate regional routes. Pawan Hans, the state-owned helicopter company, which plans to diversify into fixed-wing aircraft operations, is also said to be keen on acquiring the Dornier aircraft.

    The Regional Connectivity Scheme is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy, which was unveiled in June. The scheme, which will run for 10 years, envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports through revival of existing airstrips and airports.

    This will be achieved through a financial stimulus in the form of Central and State government concessions as well as Viability Gap Funding for airlines to operate from such airports so that fares are affordable.

    The fare for a one-hour flight of approximately 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30-minute journey on a helicopter is to be capped at ?2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different duration. Ivan Provorov Womens Jersey

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