It is official. The design and development of India’s first Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) will be carried out by a joint venture between a state-owned aerospace company and a consortium of industries.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) director, general Samir K Brahmachari told DNA that the RTA, whose development has been actively pursued by the government to enhance air connectivity between tier-II and tier-III cities with the major metros, will be a joint venture between defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and a consortium of industries.
“HAL chairman RK Tyagi has expressed his interest to be a part of the project and we are looking at a joint venture with a consortium of industries to begin with,” said Brahmachari.
He added that CSIR has already sent out letter of intent to private companies like Tata, Mahindra and Mahindra, Larsen and Turbo, among others.
“It is an open call. We want private industries to participate in the programme,” he added.
The inclusion of private industries in the development of RTA means that, the suggestions given in the feasibility report, submitted by the 16 member high powered committee headed by former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair, is rejected.
In 2010, the high powered committee, with full powers of the government, had been constituted for managing and evolving the development of the RTA, under the National Civil Aircraft Development (NCAD) programme.
In June 2011, the committee, comprising experts from the government, industry, financial institutions and aviation regulatory authority, submitted a feasibility report stating that there is a market potential for the development of the RTA. It also recommended that the government fund the development phase, and that a joint venture be created with a private partner for the production phase.
However, CISR appointed two more committees. One was headed by former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, to identify industry partners for a joint venture for the civil aircraft programme. The other was a technical committee headed by former NAL director Roddam Narashima.
Brahmachari said that Narashima’s report had suggested the development of a turbo-prop aircraft. “A turbo-prop variant is a better solution, which was not the original suggestion by the high powered committee,”Brahmachari said.
The estimated cost of the project is Rs7555 crore of which Rs4355 crore would be for the design and development and the remaining Rs3200 crore for the development phase. The first flight of the 90 seat RTA is expected to take place in 2017.