By Aman Bagaria
The Dornier 228, the first of its kind aircraft that has been made completely in India, has received type certification from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to be used for civilian flights. The 19-seater Dornier 228 is a Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) product and was being used for all kinds of military and utility purposes including coast guard and maritime surveillance since the 1980s.
Effects of the decision
After having gone through modifications at HAL’s Kanpur facility, it is now set to be used for civilian purposes. It aims to further the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) or the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme as envisaged under the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP). One of the main objectives of the RCS or the UDAN scheme was providing connectivity to un-served and under-served and airports of the country through the revival of existing airstrips and airports.
The certification of the aircraft acts as an impetus to the scheme as low tariff flights are made a reality. The Dornier 228 is a smaller aircraft that can be used extensively for short haul flights that serve the purposes of the RCS scheme.
Changing the air game
Apart from this, a lower tariff for the layman can be ensured by the incentives that shall be provided to the airline operators that use this plane. A pre-decided amount of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for a period of three years to ensure covering costs of the airline operators is guaranteed. There is a host of other incentives that such airline operators are entitled to receive like concessions on service tax, rebate on landing or parking charges by airport operators, and others as envisioned in the RCS scheme.
The RCS scheme fixes the cap on the airfare for different flights of varying distances and time durations. It has also decided the amount of VGF that an airline operator is entitled to receive in each such case. The VGF cap is almost double the airfare cap. Thus, there are enough incentives for the airline operators to acquire the Dornier 228 aircrafts and use them to ensure better connectivity.
The future for the aircraft
The Dornier 228, which had till now only be used for military and other similar utility purposes, shall now be used as commercial aircrafts. Air India has already shown interest in acquiring 10 Dornier 228 aircrafts. Pawan Hans, a national helicopter carrier, has also displayed similar interest as it plans to diversify into fixed-wing aircraft operations. The Dornier 228 had been used for operations like maritime surveillance, pollution control and prevention, search and rescue operations, executive transport, and so on, till now. After this, it can be used by private institutions or individuals for such tasks. This should make the carrying out of such operations a lot easier.
The civil version of this aircraft may also be sold to the neighbouring nations of Nepal and Sri Lanka, where it may be used as commercial aircrafts. The Dornier 228, being an aircraft that has been made completely within the country, also furthers the Make-in-India campaign. The sale of these aircrafts to other nations might be the beginning of something good for the nation.
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