Explained: Why defense aircraft maker HAL is building a civilian aircraft for use in India

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Despite the production of planes like the Hindustan Trainer-2 and its variant – the Hindustan Propulsion Trainer 32 (HPT-32) – for the Indian Air Force six decades ago, and more recently the aircraft light combat aircraft (LCA) for the IAF, the Indian air force has produced no civilian transport aircraft.

On August 15, the public sector aircraft manufacturing company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) successfully performed low-speed ground and taxi tests of a commercial aircraft – Hindustan-228 – for “type certification. »By the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The 19-seat Hindustan-228 or the Do-228 is the first major attempt in India to develop a small civilian transport aircraft after the 14-seat Saras aircraft development program at the National Aeronautics Laboratory was suspended in 2009 due to multiple problems in its development.

Type certification by the DGCA will enable HAL to obtain international certification for the aircraft. The aircraft complies with the airworthiness requirements prescribed by the United States Federal Aviation Authority for “normal, utility, aerobatic and commuter” aircraft, HAL said.

Why is HAL building a civilian aircraft?

Small civilian planes are seen as an essential part of the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) program that the central government is trying to put in place for regional connectivity.

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia recently said that the central government intends to create 1,000 new air routes and 100 new airports, under the UDAN program. “Two civilian Do-228 demonstrators have already been made and are ready to be deployed in the North East and Uttar Pradesh, the two places where we want to start the UDAN program,” the president of HAL said this week, R Madhavan. a corporate CSR event. This Hindustan-228 can be used by civilian operators and state governments for intra and interstate connectivity with HAL training, maintenance and logistics support.

Is the Hindustan-228 a spin-off from another plane?

The Hindustan-228 aircraft is built on the existing chassis of the German defense transport aircraft Dornier 228 used by the defense forces. In February 2020, HAL received the modification document for the modernized civil aircraft HAL Do-228 from the DGCA at the DefExpo in Lucknow. Two civilian Do-228s produced by HAL for a launch under the UDAN program have a maximum take-off weight of 6,200 kg. In order for the transport aircraft to fly under the commercial pilot license category, HAL must reduce the weight of the aircraft below 5,700 kg.

The civil aircraft HAL Do-228-201 (upgraded) is equipped with a digital cockpit that will ensure more accurate readings, precise information and ergonomic data displays with feedback loops and the ability to auto- control to alert pilots in case of emergency.

What is the state of development of Hindustan 228?

The Do-228 met the requirement for a light transport aircraft (LTA) within the defense forces.

HAL has produced a total of 125 Dornier 228s licensed to Kanpur since 1983. On December 26, 2017, the DGCA cleared HAL Do-228 for use on civilian flights.

HAL’s Transport Aircraft Division in Kanpur is now manufacturing the Hindustan-228 aircraft to support the Indian government’s Regional Connectivity Program (UDAN). On May 27, the first ground test of the first prototype of the aircraft was carried out. On August 15, ground tests and low-speed taxiing tests of the aircraft were carried out for type certification by the DGCA. HAL president R Madhavan told The Indian Express that HAL is now considering international certification. “The international certification was taken over in parallel. The DGCA is supporting us. We will be doing a high speed test very soon and will certify the aircraft. Once that is done, it becomes more usable, ”said the president.

What roles are envisioned for the Hindustan 228 civilian aircraft?

The Hindustan-228 is designed to be a multi-purpose utility aircraft capable of being used for VIP transport, passenger transport, air ambulance, flight inspection roles, cloud seeding, activities recreational activities such as parachute jumping, aerial surveillance, photography, remote sensing and freight transport. With a maximum cruising speed of 428 km / h and a range of 700 km / h, the aircraft is able to fly at night. HAL is looking forward to exporting the aircraft to countries like Nepal as well.

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What is the status of the Saras civilian aircraft project taken over in India in the 1990s?

The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) were invited by the Indonesian government in 2017 to relaunch the development of its 14-seat Saras Mk2 aircraft as part of the UDAN program – after the project was terminated in 2009 as a result of a major accident that killed three test pilots. The second Saras prototype had flown 45 times and was even presented at Aero India 2009, a few days before its crash.

The project was relaunched after the crash analysis revealed that the crash was the result of procedural errors, not technical issues. The Saras, a 14-seat twin-turboprop aircraft intended to serve the civil aviation market in India, was launched in the 1990s but has been constantly rife with controversy. The first prototype of the Saras which flew on May 29, 2004 weighed nearly 993 kg out of a proposed weight of 4,125 kg. The plane made nearly 125 flights. Subsequently, an engine change made it possible to reduce the weight of the second prototype. But the plane crashed on March 6, 2009. A third prototype closer to the 4125 kg mark was in preparation in 2009 when the accident occurred.

The Saras program has been given new impetus under the NDA government’s Make in India and UDAN programs. The development of Saras is projected as a precursor to the development of a 70-seat regional transport aircraft project involving NAL and HAL that was launched in 2013 but was later shelved, with HAL focusing on modifying the Dornier 228 aircraft for the civil aviation market in India.

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