The “make in India” mantra has inspired Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL, Stand 1927) to build an upgraded civil version of the Dornier 228 multirole utility military aircraft it has manufactured for several years under license from Germany’s RUAG. Called the Hindustan 228, the aircraft makes its public debut this year at the Dubai Airshow.
The Hindustan 228 aircraft received its civil type certificate in late 2017 from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), soon after the government launched the country’s so-called regional connectivity scheme. Unfortunately, the pandemic followed soon afterward. As aviation gradually returns to a state of normality, HAL hopes to see startups procure the Hindustan 228 with tax exemptions to Indian lessors that established offices in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) city in the western state of Gujarat.
With 140 Do 228s in service with India’s defense forces, HAL already operates maintenance facilities that will drastically reduce the cost of maintenance and repair for the civil variant. Meanwhile, government priorities include synergy in civil and military maintenance, repair, and overhaul.
India's Regional Connectivity Scheme has received a major boost with HAL signing a lease agreement with former Air India subsidiary Alliance Air Aviation for two civil Do 228s for regional operations. HAL delivered the two aircraft on time, in late September, to Alliance Air, primarily an ATR operator.
Alliance Air did not come with the recent sale of Air India to the Tata Group. Now flying independently, the airline is boosting operations in the remote northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh under the regional connectivity scheme. Designed to operate into short, unprepared airfields, the aircraft requires a runway length of 2,100 feet for takeoff and 1,800 feet for landing, which covers more than 99 percent of airports in India.
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu called it a “big leap in connectivity” for the state. He said fixed-wing passenger services would soon connect all feasible advanced landing grounds in the state.
HAL builds the Do 228 at its Kanpur-based Transport Aircraft Division, which manufactures transport and trainer aircraft for defense customers. The Do 228 serves roles such as air ambulance, flight inspection, cloud seeding, and activities such as para-jumping, aerial surveillance, photography, and cargo.
HAL is participating in Dubai as part of the Composite India Pavilion along with Bharat Dynamics and DRDO. HAL’s participation includes the exhibit of its Light Combat Helicopter and Do 228 Maritime Aircraft models. HAL will promote all its indigenized platforms including Light Combat Helicopter, Advanced Light Helicopter, Light Utility Helicopter, Trainer HTT-40, and Do 228. It also plans to showcase its capabilities as an OEM, systems integrator, and one-stop solution for accessories, avionics, and engine manufacture. “This effort is part of the new self-reliant India, open to participation from foreign partners and export to friendly foreign countries,” said a HAL official.