Made-In-India Dornier 228 Civilian Plane Set To Take Flight In May 
A Dornier 228 civilian aircraft. (Source: Dornier)

Made-In-India Dornier 228 Civilian Plane Set To Take Flight In May 

The first made-in-India civilian aircraft is set to take off.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will soon test a 19-seater civilian version of the Dornier 228 aircraft, built completely at the state-owned company’s Kanpur facility, Chairman and Managing Director T Suvarna Raju said in an interview to BloombergQuint. Two such aircraft are current being built there.

“HAL-made civil Dornier aircraft will fly from HAL airport’s at Nashik on May 1,” he added.

Originally made by Dornier GmbH, HAL tied up with the German company and has built 125 Dornier 228s since 1985 for the armed forces and the Coast Guard, initially by just assembling the aircraft before it started manufacturing all the parts in India.

HAL may now give the aircraft on dry lease to Indian civil aviation companies, Raju said, adding that Air India Ltd. has shown interest in using Dorniers for regional connectivity.

“We have an inquiry from Air India for 20 aircraft and were asked to give a schedule of 10 aircraft which we have proposed. We are also looking for other customers,” he added.

The Dornier 228 aircraft used by the Indian Navy (Source: HAL)
The Dornier 228 aircraft used by the Indian Navy (Source: HAL)

This is the second time that HAL is trying to build aeroplanes for civilian use. The company had previously assembled a few Aero748 44-seater aircraft for commercial airlines at its Nagpur facility before discontinuing it in 1988. The Aero748 had been built in collaboration with British company Avro, and some of its parts were imported into India.

Regional Connectivity Push

HAL is looking to capitalise on the government’s focus on increasing regional air connectivity under its UDAN policy. With airfares capped at Rs 2,500 per ticket for hour-long flights, this is the perfect opportunity for smaller aircraft like the Dornier 228 to be used extensively for these short haul flights, Raju said.

What we have (installed capacity) can cater to 40 percent of the regional airports and they can be easily connected.
T Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL

HAL has no plans to build another passenger plane besides Dornier in the near future.

“If you start to design and manufacture from scratch, it will take seven years, and we will lose the opportunity if we start doing it. Instead we are trying to consolidate our experience of manufacturing the Dornier 228 and convert it to a civil aircraft,” he added.

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