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Air transportation is a vital component of the communication network which helps to transport people on business, government officials, leisure travelers, transport of perishable and other goods. The networking helps to establish production centers in the interiors where there is advantage of low cost labor, low raw materials cost and low infrastructural cost. The air transportation while helping growth of interior regions, also helps industry, business sector to produce products at lower costs enabling competitiveness in the global market. The aircraft chosen for operation along with the airport infrastructure provided must be able to provide low cost solutions for transportation of men and materials. It would mean that there is a need for an aircraft whose acquisition and operating costs are low and also it should be capable of being operated from airports with minimal infrastructure and instrumentation facility. It may be pertinent to point out that the infrastructure cost for providing air connectivity between city pairs is lower than that for either road or rail connectivity. Is it a dream or is it possible?
There is a need for new generation of turboprop and turbojet aircraft that are cheaper to acquire and costs less to operate and are independent of costly airport infrastructure and instrumentation. Safe, nearly all weather access to any location in the country with an existing landing facility is a critical need for all round growth. With this goal in mind, I would recommend NAL to become the nodal agency to work on a 70 seater aircraft which should be so designed that with only change in fuselage length should be able to vary the passenger capacity to 50 or 90. With the technology available in the space programme, missile programme, LCA programme and other aircraft programme in the country, definitely realization of design, development and leading to production of 70 seater passenger aircraft before 2020 is possible.
Missions for enabling timely availability of a cost effective state of the art aircraft in service before 2020 are
1. System design: Modular system design leading cost effective variants of passenger aircraft of different capacities. Objective should be to reduce acquisition cost by 25%, operation cost by 25%, maintenance cost by 50% and emission reduced by 70%.
2. Avionics: Design and development of integrated avionics with COTS technology and open system architecture.