HAL abandons Regional Transport Aircraft project

BENGALURU:Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman T Suvarna Raju yesterday said Regional Transport Aircraft project (RTA-70) involving HAL and NAL (National Aerospace Laboratories) had been abandoned.

sanjiv@tribunemail.com

Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service   

Bengaluru, December 24

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman T Suvarna Raju yesterday said Regional Transport Aircraft project (RTA-70) involving HAL and NAL (National Aerospace Laboratories) had been abandoned. He blamed the NAL for the project’s premature death.

While HAL is under the Defence Ministry (MoD), NAL is affiliated to the Ministry of Science and Technology. The two organisations’ affiliations to different ministries is said to be a key reason behind the failure of the RTA-70 project.

A contrast can be seen in the LCA (light combat aircraft) project, which also entails close cooperation between HAL and ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency). Both HAL and ADA are under the MoD and as a result, the LCA project is progressing smoothly.

Raju said HAL wanted a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to be formed between HAL and NAL and get the best possible design (which may not be from the lowest bidder) for the aircraft.

The aircraft was to be manufactured by a consortium of industries, including private industries with risk-sharing partnerships. “But somehow we could not form the SPV due to certain reasons from NAL. It stopped there,” Raju said.

The HAL chairman did not say anything about “the reasons” that led the NAL to develop cold feet about the proposed passenger plane project. “I don’t think it (RTA-70) has life any further,” Raju said. NAL could not be immediately contacted for its reaction.

The CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) had sanctioned Rs 300 crore for “proof of concept studies” for the RTA-70 project. The first prototype of RTA-70 was to fly by 2013.

“HAL will be the manufacturing partner and firms such as Infosys Technologies and the local unit of US technology firm Honeywell International will build some technology components (for RTA-70),” the NAL website said.

Suvarna Raju said HAL was having a plan to develop a civil aircraft on its own with help from Indian and foreign collaborators. He also added that a locally made aero-engine for the proposed jet was a top priority. For this purpose, HAL was actively considering “co-producing” a “futuristic green engine,” he said. “We will finalise an approach for this soon,” Raju said.

OEM status 

HAL chairman T Suvarna Raju said on Wednesday that HAL ought to get the status of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for spare parts manufactured by it in India for foreign fighter jets in service with Indian defence forces.

He said India was having the biggest fleets in the world of Jaguars, Hawks and Su-30s. “No shop abroad sells their spares any more. All the rights, guarantee and warranty are with HAL”, Raju said.

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