India's plan to build civilian plane set for take-off
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After spending years in the pipeline, India's plan to build its own civilian aircraft is set to take off by September, with the government expected to give its final nod to creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for this project in the next couple of weeks.
This, according to sources, is among the showcase projects in the package planned to boost the manufacturing sector. Just like the Rs 1.15 lakh crore-push announced for the infrastructure sector, the government is keen to send a strong signal to the manufacturing sector through a similar set of measures, they said.
It is learnt that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to chair a meeting of key ministries to finalise the entire package over the next few weeks. In fact, a meeting was set for July 3 but may have to be pushed ahead to ensure the presence of most ministers.
As for the aircraft project, sources said, the proposal is for the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to create a SPV along with the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). This SPV will work out arrangements with DRDO labs as well as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
While this is planned to be largely an indigenous effort, sources said the proposal makes it clear that the engine would have to be purchased globally, for which a tie-up with a global player would be necessary. However, the airframe and related systems would be built in India.
Significantly, the SPV will have to engage the private sector, which is said to be willing to invest in the project as first- and second-tier suppliers. Going by this and the recommendations of the B K Chaturvedi-led expert group on HAL, sources said the government is now confident that the SPV can be launched by September 30.