‘Regional transport aircraft development needs Rs.7,000 crore’

Bengaluru, Dec 23 (IANS) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chief managing director (CMD) T. Suvarna Raju on Wednesday said an amount of Rs.7,000 crore would be required to develop and successfully prove a regional transport aircraft.

“In the next five years, there would be a requirement of 200 regional transport aircraft, one way is to make them under license or development. If you go for joint development, you are always dependent on your big brother whoever is helping you,” said Raju during a press conference held to mark the platinum jubilee of HAL.

Joint development requires HAL or others to depend on its foreign partner like Boeing, Airbus, Embraer or others to procure parts and other necessary equipment whenever needed.

And to avoid such a situation, brand India aircraft should be developed which HAL is deliberating.

“We are deliberating whether to create brand India aircraft, that would be our choice because by 2035 India would be number one or two in aviation market,” said Raju.

“And with the kind of approach the government is showing and changing the policy, we may prefer the option of creating a brand India aeroplane,” said Raju.

Raju said HAL has delivered the first series production Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Teja to Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2015.

“We are trying to make LCA mach 1 which immediately fits in the requirement of the customer (IAF) as LCA mach 2 would be available for production in the year 2021,” said Raju.

HAL is looking to ramp up its eight-aircraft-a-year production capacity to 16.

“We are planning to increase the capacity to make 16 aircraft per year by 2018 at an investment of more than Rs.200 crore. Fifty percent of the investment will be made by HAL, while the Indian Navy will invest 25 percent and the Indian Air Force 25 per cent,” he said.

The CMD said HAL being a public sector unit (PSU), transparency and accountability are of utmost importance.

“If I go for transparency, I need to give an open tender, and if I give an open tender, I need to follow the rule of lowest bidder who sticks to the specifications. It may not always be that the L1 could be the best one,” Raju said.

And to overcome a contradiction of this sort, HAL is asking for a special purpose vehicle (SPV) where public and private industry can design aircraft, he added.

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