HAL offers its 228s for the civil market
At long last, the powers have ‘ discovered’ that India has been building regional airliners or commuter aircraft for over 30 years ! HAL’s Transport Aircraft Division at Kanpur has manufactured the 19-seat Dornier 228 since 1985 with over 130 delivered, mostly to the Indian Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard but over a dozen also built for civil operators including the erstwhile Vayudoot as also Jagson Airlines, UB Airways and the DGCA.
In early 2016, with the Regional Air Connectivity Scheme getting underway, HAL took the initiative to build additional Dornier 228s, specifically for the civil market and this was first made public during DefExpo 2016 at Goa in March 2016. On 10 December 2016, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha ‘inaugurated’ structural assembly of HAL’s first such civil variant Dornier 228 at HAL’s Kanpur facility. “We are keen to take forward our Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) and HAL has an important role to play in this,” he said. The Minister pointed out that there is a market demand for at least 200 such aircraft and the government would conclude the contract with HAL once the first aircraft is rolledout (see picture).
Speaking on the occasion, T Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL said he expected the first aircraft to rollout by April 2017. The Dornier 228-201 ‘upgraded version’ is the most obvious aircraft for Indian operators for Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). “Our aim is to help the Government in its mission to provide affordable and sustainable air travel with access to various parts of India. As a proactive step in this direction the HAL Board sanctioned Rs 100 crore for two civil variants though there is no firm order. We see a big business opportunity in this segment for next 10 years,” he said. HAL has already begun manufacturing these two civil demonstrator aircraft.
The Kanpur Division has been given civil certification CAR 21 for manufacture and CAR 145 for Maintenance Repair & Overhaul ( MRO) of Dornier 228- 201 aircraft.