Sunday, December 25, 2011

India to get its own low-cost dreamliner soon



India can soon boast of its very own low-cost, passenger plane. That's right. For the very first time, the country has embarked upon a project to design and manufacture its first, indigenous passenger aircraft. Called the National Civilian Plane, it can carry a little less than 100 people and could make its maiden flight in less than five years.

Nearly 100 engineers are working on this ambitious project at the National Aerospace Laboratory in Bangalore that's expected to cost Rs. 4,300 crore. The plane can take off from small runways and is aimed at air-linking smaller cities.

"We have come out with a project report for developing this aircraft, a 90-seater aircraft which can fly from short runways and operate in between small cities of the country and meet the Indian market very well and capture some of the international market in developing countries", said G. Madhavan Nair, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the man who flew India to the moon.

The plane is expected to fill a vital gap in the domestic aviation sector. With air traffic within the country growing annually at the rate of 15%, designers feel that the demand for the new passenger plane could rise to around 500 in the next decade.

The National Aerospace Laboratory has earlier successfully designed the two-seater Hansa plane that has been put into commercial use. It's effort to make a small, 14-seater plane, Saras, though hit a roadblock when a prototype crashed near Bangalore in 2009, killing three people.

Aerospace engineers are banking on the management skills of Mr Nair this time to develop this plane and commercialise it in partnership with the private sector.