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Govt approves proposal for civilian aircraft

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NEW DELHI: Giving a much-needed fillip to indigenous civilian aircraft manufacturing efforts, India today approved a project for design and development of a regional transport aircraft by blue chip Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL).

Defence Minister A K Antony gave the clearance to the project after officials of both HAL and NAL made a detailed presentation on the feasibility of designing, developing and manufacturing the 70-seater civilian aircraft, Defence Ministry sources said here.

With this, India would join a select group of countries, including US, EU, Brazil, Canada and China which have capabilities to design and develop their own civilian aircraft.

The regional aircraft project is likely to cost about Rs 4,000 crore at its development stage itself and the aircraft would roll out for certification and airworthiness trials by 2014-15, sources said.

The 70-seater aircraft is expected to serve the domestic airline services market on regional routes, covering a range of about 600 km to 800 km, they said.

Though the two top aircraft design and development agencies in the public sector domain are yet to decide on work share, funding, and the engine type -- turbo-prop or turbo-jet -- for the new aircraft, it is understood that they presented a joint plan to the Defence Minister and acquired the necessary approval from him for the project. (PTI)

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