Hyderabad: India’s dream of developing a Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) might be far from reality, but the Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) on Sunday took a pledge at the historical Taramati Baradari, near Golconda Fort, in Hyderabad, to push the case with renewed energy. At the concluding session of the two-day International Conference and Exhibition on RTA, the aerospace brains decided to present a strong case to the government within a month. However, absent from the scene was Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), with not a single official present during the concluding session.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat told Express that the AeSI will present a report based on the thoughts gathered from experts in the field of military and commercial aviation. “A techno-commercial analysis is already in place put out by the National Aerospace Laboratories. We will add impetus to this report. What needs to be built and what needs to be bought should be decided first. Infrastructure, human resources, feasible routes, technology gaps that need to be addressed and funding are some key areas for the RTA project,” Saraswat said.
According to him, India’s RTA programme has to be a public-private company with proper checks and balances. “Accountability is the key. We need to have a strong project management team. This project should not be lead by a government agency,” Saraswat said. When asked about the absence of HAL officials during the final phase of the event, the DRDO chief said: “I don’t see that as a major issue. They were here yesterday.”
S K Chaudhuri, director, Research Centre Imarat (RCI), felt that an autonomous body should drive the RTA project. “We need to look at
this project from a new angle. A cultural change is must and it can happen only through a consortium of public, private partnership. Automation, upgradation of small airports in the country and the creation of a rugged network are areas we need to focus,” Chaudhuri said.
Keeping in mind the mammoth challenge of certification of the RTA, Charan Das, joint director general, DGCA, felt that the platform must be cleared as per the international standards. “It is a cumbersome process to certify RTA with the existing manpower we have. Roping in an internal agency will be the right idea, which will also give us some exposure in their pattern of thinking and work philosophies,” Das said.
P N A P Rao, former project director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) told Express that India should first decide on the partners of this project. “If we are serious, then we should decide who will make RTA. Somebody has to own it first and we can’t repeat the mistakes we made in the past. Today, we have the expertise in developing Tejas and now we must quickly get on with the civil segment too,” Rao said.
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