SOURCE: Bangalore Mirror
Flybig, a regional airline that is gearing up to have its first commercial flight by mid-October under the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) project, would become the first airline to launch a new service in the Covid-19 era.
The airline that is promoted by Big Charter has received a No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and is in the process of getting Air Operators Certificate with a fleet of aircraft comprising ATR-72-500s and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-manufactured Dornier Do-228 (Upgraded) civil aircraft.
“As we will be operating under the UDAN scheme, we would have flight services to many sectors in the North East and Central India which are typically not airports but airstrips where the ATRs cannot operate. The 17-seater Dornier Do-228 is an ideal aircraft to operate from these sectors,” Rajarshi Sen, CFO, Big Charter Pvt. Ltd told Bangalore Mirror. He added that the airline has been holding talks with HAL to get three Do-228s as a committed order and three more as an optional order.
“We are holding talks with the HAL management and have already signed a Letter of Intent (LOI). Commercial discussions are going on with them. Getting the Do-228s from HAL would also mean supporting the Make in India initiative,” he added.
Earlier in February, the Bengaluru-headquartered-HAL had received the modification document of Do-228 (Upgraded) civil aircraft from the DGCA to produce the aircraft for the UDAN scheme.
According to HAL, the Do-228s will be equipped with a digital cockpit which will ensure more accurate readings, precise information and ergonomic data displays with feedback loops and capability for self-check to alert pilots in emergencies.
Besides it said that it has also incorporated civil certified turbo-prop minus 10 Engine to ensure more reliable torque sensing system, higher component life, lighter in weight and higher time between overhaul (TBO) as compared to previous minus 5 engine.
In the coming years, there would be a demand for over 200 aircraft under the UDAN scheme. Meanwhile, Flybig’s proposed network is to have a base in Indore, Guwahati and Varanasi. The airline has bid for a minimum Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of Rs 313 crore for FY 2020-21. The VGF will be allowed for a period of three years from date of allotment.
What does it mean for HAL?
In the coming years, there would be a demand for over 200 aircraft under the UDAN scheme.
Apart from HAL, NAL is also involved in the development of its 19-seater aircraft Saras and both the aircraft are competing to be the Make in India aircraft to operate under the UDAN scheme.
While the Saras is still under developmental stage, HAL has an upper hand as two civil demonstrator aircraft of the DO-228-201 have already been manufactured and Certificate of Airworthiness has already been received from DGCA. With this, HAL, which has so far been involved only with the production of military aircraft, will be entering into the civilian domaain.