In­dia’s own light trans­port air­craft

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & Inindia -

The Dornier 228 rep­re­sented the new gen­er­a­tion of com­muter and util­ity air­craft, in­cor­po­rat­ing ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy in de­sign, man­u­fac­ture and po­ten­tial for fu­ture growth. Con­form­ing to FAR 23 Part 135 Ap­pendix ‘A’ reg­u­la­tions for com­muter op­er­a­tions, the 19- seater Dornier 228- 200 se­ries had the twin, and nor­mally not avail­able to­gether, ad­van­tages of STOL per­for­mance in hotand-high con­di­tions as well as high cruise speed and long range, all at un­usu­ally low op­er­at­ing costs. This would make the air­craft ex­tremely ver­sa­tile and cost­ef­fec­tive for Vayu­doot which could op­er­ate the air­craft with flex­i­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity from a va­ri­ety of air­fields in­clud­ing semiprepared airstrips in dif­fi­cult ter­rain. With its op­er­at­ing costs some one-third of those of com­pet­i­tive air­craft, Vayu­doot could plan eco­nomic re­turns on new and un­known sec­tors.

For the de­fence ser­vices, the Dornier 228 pro­vided equal ver­sa­til­ity com­bin­ing ex­cel­lent field per­for­mance with good pay­load-range and long en­durance, apart from the sav­ings in fuel and main­te­nance costs ow­ing to its rugged de­sign fea­tures.

For Hin­dus­tan Aeronautics Lim­ited, the Dornier 228 rep­re­sented the op­por­tu­nity to fi­nally par­tic­i­pate in the LTA pro­gramme it had set out for five years ear­lier. In the com­pre­hen­sive trans­fer-of -tech­nol­ogy con­tract, Dornier would as­sist HAL in es­tab­lish­ing pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties for the air­craft, its pow­er­plants, avion­ics and ac­ces­sories, jointly de­velop spe­cial vari­ants of the air­craft to meet the mul­ti­far­i­ous—and not al­ways com­pat­i­ble—re­quire­ments of var­i­ous op­er­a­tors and, in a phased man­ner, evolve growth ver­sions of the air­craft to meet fu­ture re­quire­ments.

HAL’s Kan­pur Divi­sion was se­lected to man­u­fac­ture the air­frame, in­clud­ing the wing of new tech­nol­ogy, and com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als for its struc­ture while the Gar­rett TPE 331 tur­bo­prop en­gines would be built at the Ban­ga­lore Divi­sion and ac­ces­sories/ avion­ics at HAL Luc­know/ Hy­der­abad Di­vi­sions. In­dian op­er­a­tors would take ad­van­tage of var­i­ous de­vel­op­men­tal ben­e­fits that an air­craft of the Dornier 228 at the be­gin­ning of its ca­reer of­fered.

That the HAL-built Dornier 228 was in­tended not only to be a fully-in­dige­nous air­craft but on which fu­ture trans­port Air­craft de­signs are based, was re­vealed from the Gov­ern­ment’s com­pre­hen­sive plan­ning where even raw ma­te­rial for the air­frame, ac­ces­sories and en­gines would be lo­cally sourced. That, plus the pro­gramme for ex­port of HAL-built 228s to a large ex­clu­sive mar­ket­ing ter­ri­tory, was a ma­jor step to­wards ful­fil­ment of the na­tional pol­icy for self-re­liance in the aero­nau­ti­cal field. Mean­while, Vayu­doot was air­borne, hav­ing in­au­gu­rated its air ser­vices with some fan­fare on 26 Jan­uary 1981 with a leased Fokker F-27 of In­dian Air­lines on the short hop from Gauhati to Bara­pani (in the foothills of Shil­long).

Vayu­doot, as a reg­is­tered com­pany had been founded as the third-level feeder air­line in the coun­try only a few days ear­lier, on 20th Jan­uary. The ob­jec­tive was “to pro­vide com­mu­ni­ca­tion to re­mote ar­eas,

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