Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has confirmed that it is looking at the viability of a joint venture with Dornier Seastar following an approach from the German company. Speaking at the show, Kumar Umamaheswar, HAL's general manager marketing, says: "We're looking closely at the Indian market to see if there's enough interest in the Dornier Seastar amphibious aircraft. The likely customers are going to be the navy and coast guards. We're doing extensive research at the moment." A decision is not likely until April, after elections in India. HAL is also keeping an eye out for other joint venture partners with an interest in co-producing both a 50- and 100-seater civil aircraft, says Umamaheswar. The opening of a new plant at Kan Pur in the state of Uttar Pradesh gives HAL the capacity to part-manufacture. India's Aeronautical Development Agency is meanwhile continuing work on its Light Combat Aircraft, a project to which a number of HAL designers have been seconded, developing a prototype which HAL claims will surpass the characteristics of Lockheed Martin's F-16. Flight tests are expected to begin in early 1999.