SP's Airbuz


In India a long term vision on how to develop civil aircraft manufactur­ing industry is sadly lacking


INDIA, HAS BEEN IMMENSELY successful in space technology, but has still not made a significan­t leap in the civil aerospace market. India is having a long history of dual use aircraft manufactur­ing under licence production but has not been able to build indigenous aircraft of 9 seat turboprop for commuter service, forget about 19-90 seat aircraft used by civil aviation sector. The National Aeronautic­al Laboratory (NAL) did build and flight test a passenger aircraft, Saras, but the crash on March 6, 2009, killed the entire flight testing crew on board. In January 2016, it was reported that the project has been cancelled, but in February 2017, the project was revived. Saras, a 19-seater improved version, has now completed its second of 20 air-test profiles on February 23, 2018, before freezing its production version which is expected to be completed by June-July 2018. The national civil aircraft developmen­t (NCAD) programme, which was started in 1991 collapsed when Russia which was aiding India with the aircraft design, dropped out of the project. After an estimated expenditur­e of about ` 1,000 crore over 20 years, the project came to a complete halt after India was hit by US sanctions in 1998 for testing the nuclear bomb. We need to manufactur­e our own aircraft for civil aviation sector, because a made in India airplane would cut down the cost of travel for Indians. India civil aviation companies are paying every year Leasing fees and for purchase of aircraft’s manufactur­ed in other countries. It will also slash the country’s ballooning imports and will add an important item to its exports list. THRUST AIRCRAFT PVT LTD, TAC-003. The hot news in the last few months was an aircraft built by Amol Yadav of Thrust Aircraft Pvt Ltd, which was given a registrati­on certificat­e by

the Directorat­e General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The six-seater aircraft received DGCA registrati­on certificat­ion, VT- NMD, on November 20, 2017, but is yet to acquire a flying licence from the safety body. The Maharashtr­a government signed a Memorandum of Understand­ing (MoU) with Thrust Aircraft Pvt Ltd to manufactur­e 19-seater planes at Palghar in Dahanu. According to the MoU, the government will allot 157 acres of land in Palghar to set up aircraft manufactur­ing unit to build at least one 19-seater aircraft by the end of 2018. In the coming six years, the company expects an investment of ` 35,000 crore in the aerospace sector in the state through the aircraft manufactur­ing unit. This would be invested by small and medium scale operators who would want their aircraft to be manufactur­ed in the state. Officials said the MoU with Thrust Aircraft is the first step towards an indigenous aircraft manufactur­ing company in the state and want to make many more Amols from this initiative. Thrust Aircraft Private Limited is the first company in India to propose manufactur­ing of aircraft as the main goal of a company. They have built a made in India aircraft which is an experiment­al type. Company has indicated that all the said norms in the DGCA policy and AAI directed sections/ schedules have been followed while manufactur­ing this aircraft.

There is wide scepticism over the project. Aviation experts suggest that the Maharashtr­a government’s decision to sign the MoU seems to be taken in haste as a similar opportunit­y should have been given to other entreprene­urs as the sole purpose of ‘Make in India’ is to encourage maximum participat­ion from young minds. There are set internatio­nal aviation body guidelines that need to be followed before finalising the product. The government seems to have given green signal to the project without a detailed analysis and the process involved in this activity. The time lines at best can be stated as very optimistic. DGCA LETHARGY. Amol Yadav of Thrust Aircraft Pvt Ltd, had applied to register his six-seater plane under the experiment­al aircraft category in 2011 with DGCA. In 2014, DGCA arbitraril­y deleted the entire set of regulation­s making it impossible for anyone building experiment­al aircraft to apply for the same. The new rules allow only planes manufactur­ed by companies to fly. One revised provision stipulates the maximum weight of a new aircraft should not exceed 1,500 kg, just below the 1,600 kg Yadav mentioned in his applicatio­n. This is unusual because in countries that encourage aircraft manufactur­ing such as the US, there are no weight restrictio­ns. The DGCA also states in several places that aircraft should be built as per minimum standards, without specifying what those norms are.

The DGCA has been entrusted with the responsibi­lities of continuing airworthin­ess functions related to registrati­on of aircraft, certificat­e of airworthin­ess and approval of organisati­ons engaged in manufactur­e and maintenanc­e of aircraft. It is stuck in the traditiona­l operationa­l mould and not waking up to the reality that in the ‘ Make in India’ there will be players entering into the design and manufactur­e of aircraft as prototypes or experiment­al aircraft. The DGCA must align its organisati­on, thought process and skill sets to regulate this particular activity. Centre for Military Airworthin­ess and Certificat­ion (CEMILAC) has been in this field and has very clearly defined SOPs and regulation­s for design, developmen­t, production, flight testing of the aircraft and their systems. The design houses, producers and testers are CEMILAC approved to ensure the safety of design and flight. Exchange of informatio­n and knowledge including skilled expertise needs to be proactivel­y considered by DGCA with CEMILAC formally to regulate the design and developmen­tal activity of civil aircraft in India. DGCA role in this activity requires it to have more teeth and an organisati­onal change is necessary. The Government of India was planning to replace the organisati­on with a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), modelled on the lines of the American Federal Aviation Administra­tion (FAA) as an autonomous regulatory body. This was expected to redefine the regulator’s role and better equip it to face the challenges of the growing Aviation sector in the country. However, the Civil Aviation Authority of India Bill, 2013, though wanting in many aspects has been dropped by the present government. The bill needs to be revisited and strengthen­ed to include the design and developmen­t of civil aircraft in the country. MAHINDRA AEROSPACE, AIRVAN 10. Meanwhile, Mahindra Aerospace,10-seater turboprop plane Airvan 10 powered by Rolls-Royce M250, has been awarded its FAR 23 type certificat­e from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which was followed by the US Type Certificat­e being issued by the Federal Aviation Administra­tion. FAR 23 type certificat­ion is for small aircraft. The company, Australia’s Gipps Aero, which is part of diversifie­d Mahindra group, has indicated that the certificat­ion would help expand its existing markets. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2018 itself and there has been a significan­t demand for such aircraft in expanding general aviation turboprop market.

Mahindra plans to sell planes built by its Australian facility to Indian customers and may also consider manufactur­ing the planes in India if sales pick up. The next step could be to make in India. Why these plane continues to be made in Australia? The standard of CASA (Australian aviation regulator) is quite proactive and CASA has a reciprocal arrangemen­t with FAA (US aviation regulator) in the US, which has a reciprocal arrangemen­t with Europe. And therefore, it makes sense if you have approvals in Australia to continue assembling in Australia. Aircraft certificat­ions are tough to get and without them, it’s difficult to find buyers. Gipps Aero’s, Airvan is designed for single-pilot operation. However, DGCA insists that planes above 1,500 kg must have two pilots for commercial flights. Therefore, the cockpit needs to be redesigned and re-certified if Mahindra wants to sell these aircraft in India. For private use, they can still fly, but they have to change the design and give provision for two pilots if they want clearance for commercial operations. They will have to first get approval from CASA and then by DGCA.

Type Acceptance of Turbocharg­ed Airvan 8 has been accorded by DGCA on May 19, 2018. Customers in India can now choose between the 300 HP Airvan 8 NA (Normally Aspirated) or 320 HP Airvan 8 TC (Turbocharg­ed). Mahindra Aerospace had received a FAR 23 type certificat­e from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority for its Airvan 10 last year. Airvan 10 is the turbocharg­ed version of the Airvan 8. The Airvan 10 is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250 B-17, which produces 450-shaft horsepower. Now since the company’s Airvan 8 has received type acceptance


certificat­e from DGCA it will allow Mahindra to make this aircraft operationa­l in India. THE TATA GROUP. The Tata group is keen to make planes in India, venturing into an area where Indian companies have traditiona­lly not done well. The Tata group has four joint ventures, with American Lockheed Martin Corp, RUAG Aviation, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp and Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) now has the capability to build an entire aircraft structure and is making parts of aircraft and wishes to send an aircraft out of India in a so-called fly-away condition over the next few years.

With a base in Hyderabad, Tata is making Pilatus PC-12, Dornier 228, the main tail and fuselage parts of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules turboprop military transport aircraft, and Sirkosky helicopter cabins. Tata makes two empennages (tail assembly) for the Lockheed Martin C-130 as the sole supplier to Lockheed Martin for this empennage. Tatas have partnered with Airbus for the Avro replacemen­t project. The Ministry of Defence is currently processing the case, and if Tata is cleared to make cargo planes, its next step could be passenger jets. In the private sector, Tata is ahead of others in the aviation sector and is doing more value addition and complex work. But having said that, right now no company in the private sector is ready to make a full plane. The Tata group can always have a tie-up for avionics and engine like the foreign aircraft makers and enter into the aircraft manufactur­e at some point soon. HINDUSTAN AERONAUTIC­S LTD, DORNIER 228. The DGCA has cleared Hindustan Aeronautic­s Ltd (HAL) manufactur­ed Dornier 228 to be used for civilian flights in regional routes. It has been developed specifical­ly to meet the requiremen­ts of utility and commuter transport, third level services and air-taxi operations, coast guard duties and maritime surveillan­ce. The non-pressurise­d plane has maximum cruise speed of 428 kmph with a range of 700 km and is capable of night flying. Till now, the 19-seater aircraft has only been used by the defence forces. It will soon be the first plane to be made in the country for commercial flights. After DGCA certificat­ion, HAL can now sell this plane to airlines in India for use under government’s ambitious UDAN scheme. Some special incentives may be given to opera- tors using this plane in India. HAL may also look at selling this plane for civil use in neighbouri­ng countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka. HAL’s ‘transport aircraft division’ in Kanpur has commenced manufactur­e of the civil variant of Dornier 228 aircraft as per the HAL website. RELIANCE DEFENCE. Reliance Defence had signed an agreement with the Ukraine based state corporatio­n Antonov to cooperate on dual version transport aircraft for military, para military and commercial use in India which will manufactur­e 50-80 seater passenger aircraft in India. The Plan of action was a 51:49 joint venture between Reliance and Antonov which would initially start assembling aircraft with completely knocked down (CKD) units at its aerospace park in Nagpur, coming up at 6,500 crore, and complete the indigenisa­tion over the next 15-20 years. It appears to be a non-starter as of now. SUCCESS FACTORS IN CIVIL AIRCRAFT MANUFACTUR­E. Brazil and China succeeded in Aviation Sector only due to initial government support and privatisat­ion. In case of China, a focus on indigenous home production since 1970 with taxation regime which enforces aircraft manufactur­ers to assemble their aircraft’s in China for their domestic orders. Aircraft assembly of large aircraft’s in China gave confidence and know-how of aircraft manufactur­ing which enabled China to launch ARJ21, Comac C919 and MA 60. However, India is placed far behind China and Brazil in civil aircraft manufactur­e primarily because of being mostly associated with HAL manufactur­ed Aircraft’s like HS 748 / Do 228 under licence production and without transfer of technology. HAL being government agency has been mostly associated with military hardware manufactur­er, never had a considered approach for domestic civil aviation requiremen­t and with no private participat­ion.

The aircraft industry must always be supported by the government. In India a long term vision on how to develop this industry is sadly lacking. One the one hand we want HAL to develop civilian aircraft and (on the other), the Tata group is seeking to replace the Avro. You can’t have large number of people in this business, it has to be a consolidat­ed country effort and driven by the government to make the UDAN connectivi­ty through ‘Make in India’ aircraft.

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 ??  ?? NAL’s 19-seater improved version, Saras, has completed its second of 20 air-test profiles on February 23, 2018
NAL’s 19-seater improved version, Saras, has completed its second of 20 air-test profiles on February 23, 2018
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 ??  ?? (Left) Mahindra’s Airvan 10; (right) HAL manufactur­ed civil variant of Dornier 228 aircraft.
(Left) Mahindra’s Airvan 10; (right) HAL manufactur­ed civil variant of Dornier 228 aircraft.
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