Indigenous Indian regional aircraft programme in limbo

Hyderabad
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Plans for the development of an indigenous Indian regional aircraft remain in limbo, with the government hoping to invite both national and international companies to participate in the scheme, on both an industrial and financial level.

The National Civil Aircraft Development (NCAD) project was first proposed as the Indian regional transport aircraft programme in 2007.

State-owned airframer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and research and development agency National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) undertook separate studies at that time.

A 16-member NCAD "high-powered" committee, which included officials from NAL, HAL, the civil aviation ministry, research bodies and some Indian industrialists was also formed.

Any plans, however, remain suspended while awaiting "some direction" from the government, says a source familiar with the project.

The government is getting ready to issue an "expression of interest" document, inviting potential partners to come on board. The committee will decide if the aircraft will have a jet, turboprop or turbofan engine after discussions with its partners, he adds.

NAL will remain the design bureau while HAL will manufacture the aircraft, he says.

"Funding is an issue. They is still some discussion on what sort of aircraft India should produce, and what funding the government should provide. The government may only fund the initial studies, while the joint venture may have to provide the rests of the funds," he adds.

Initial discussions centred around a 70-90-seat aircraft with a range of 1,350nm (2,500km). A composite airframe was proposed, along with an indigenous fly-by-wire control system, ADS-B surveillance capabilities, and advanced displays.

Diehl displayed a proposed cabin at the India Aviation 2010 show, but it was not present at the 2012 edition in Hyderabad.