India to Build Regional Transport Aircraft

By admin • October 8th, 2010

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India Defence Online, New Delhi — India’s much touted Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) is being developed in India by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at an estimated project cost of $900 million. This regional aircraft project has been initiated by the DRDO and the National Aeronautics Limited (NAL) is the nodal agency for the design of the aircraft while Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is likely to manufacture it.

The RTA will have a range of 600 kilometres to 800 kilometres making it conducive to travel within India due to the close proximity of cities within the country. The RTA will be a 70 to 90 seat aircraft. The design team for the RTA consists of Quest Global, the outsourced manufacturing company which has plans to assist in the manufacturing as well. As many as 400 RTA’s are planned to be manufactured and half of these RTA’s will go to the Indian Armed forces. As for the engine of the RTA, NAL is in discussions with Pratt & Whitney of Canada and General Electric of US. NAL intends to develop low cost and green technologies for the aircraft with the help of Pratt and Whitney to co-develop the aircraft engine. Other international firms like Rockwell Collins and Diehl Aerospace, the German aerospace firm, are offering avionics and other systems for the RTA project.

As per the forecasts in the aviation sector, the domestic traffic increase of 10% to 12% will be seen in the next decade or so. According to experts, the boom in the aviation sector will come from regional aircraft that will complement the Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities of India besides catering to other sectors and industries like cargo and tourism. Evidently in India, within a radius of 300 to 400 kilometres, there are other major or smaller cities. In addition, the RTA can utilise old unused airstrips since it has a runway requirement of around 900 metres.

The RTA program is being viewed as a major public-private initiative to ensure the most modern and the best in local and global talent for the design, development, manufacturing, serial production and program management of the regional aircraft project.

The prime nodal agency NAL is to build a design bureau and build a detailed business plan to seek appropriate funds and support from the government as well as other risk sharing partners. NAL has received the initial $75 million it needs to initiate the first step from the government. Also, a lot of aspects of the RTA programme such as work share, funding and even the choice of engine are yet to be finalised. According to NAL, the RTA programme requires technologies such as a laminar flow wing, hydrophobic coatings, low cost composites, fly-by-wire controls and advanced avionics.

Source: India Defence Online

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