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India’s own 70-seater aircraft could fly by 2015

By Tomojit Bhattacharjee, IANS

New Delhi : India might fly its own indigenously built 70-seater civilian aircraft in another seven to eight years, the programme director of the country’s first self-built aircraft SARAS has said.

“We are already in the planning stages for a 70-seater aircraft. In another seven to eight years, we should be flying our own big aircraft,” SARAS programme director M.S. Chidananda told IANS from Mumbai.

The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Banaglore, has already come up with two 14-seater SARAS planes built with Indian technology.

“The first SARAS prototype has already undertaken over 120 test flights, while the second prototype developed in April this year has gone for 12 test flights,” Chidananda said.

“We are working hard on the third aircraft now. It is expected to be ready by December 2008. The third plane will be equipped with a more powerful engine and will be more light,” he said.

Chidananda said India could start production of these planes on a commercial scale after 2009.

“We are discussing the commercial prospects with many companies in the private sector. We will zero in on a production agency soon,” he said.

Due to the progress of the SARAS project, India’s aviation growth is being featured in a television series on Discovery channel titled “Daily Planet Goes to India”. The six-episode series, which goes on air on Independence Day (Aug 15), celebrates the scientific strides made by India in the last 60 years.

The SARAS director said the thrust of projects undertaken by the NAL is to develop indigenous aviation technology that would contribute to the development of the sector not only in India but also in other parts of the world.

“We are trying to come out with new technology that would contribute to aviation growth globally,” he said.

Chidananda said it was a good opportunity for the country to become a major player in the world aviation market.

“Definitely, there are only five to six nations in the world which manufacture aircraft. If we enter the market, we can surely become a major player.”

He also said the progress of aviation technology in India was crucial as the country is experiencing a boom in the sector with a massive increase in passenger and cargo traffic.