Tuesday, July 21, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: India's Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA-70)

The photograph you see to the right is the first real glimpse of how India's National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) envisages its ambitious RTA-70, a national regional transport aircraft programme that's been strictly on paper for almost a decade now, but announced formally last year. In 1996, then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (in between yawns, no doubt) said in his speech during Aero India that his government had given the scientific establishment the task of developing a 50-seater turboprop airliner and a 100-seat jet airliner. These visions changed somewhat, and the current government, in its first stint in power sanctioned the development of a 70-110 seat civilian airliner for the Indian market. While the money has already begun to flow into the programme, so far only preliminary conceptual studies have been carried out on the RTA-70 pictured above. These studies, according to NAL, include "computational fluid dynamics, wind tunnel studies and multidisciplinary design optimisation (MDO) studies".

NAL is developing the RTA-70 as a platform "capable of reliable and safe operation from airports with minimal infrastructure and instrumentation facility under all-weather conditions." It is not yet clear if the RTA-70 will also be spun off into a military variant for transport and special operations. Remember, HAL (which is a development partner to NAL for the RTA-70) is also steeped in build studies for the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) that it is developing in a joint venture with Ilyushin of Russia.

In May 2008, it was decided that technologies required the programme included a laminar flow wing, hydrophobic coatings, use of low cost composites, fly-by-wire controls, advanced avionics that will enable use of ill-equipped airfields and integrated vehicle health monitoring. Pratt & Whitney engines have almost been finalised for the platform.

On the airframe, structural technologies identified as crucial included use of piezo and SMA related smart materials for flutter and gust control, structural topology, structural health monitoring (SHM) and low cost materials. Architectures for avionics, active noise control systems flight control systems (fly by wire) and synthetic vision were additionally identified. Structural health monitoring, in fact, is being developed as a core technology of the RTA-70.

The RTA-70 will be developed and built using extensive private sector participation, and NAL is understood to also be hunting for a foreign collaborator. When ready, the RTA-70's makers envisage it as having about a 35% lower flyaway and ownership cost than aircraft it will ultimately be pitched against, those manufactured by Embraer, Bombardier and ATR.

The first prototype is expected to fly in 2013.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

what can we say other than "Best of Luck NAL"!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I like India's progress, but it is despicable to see that it cannot manufacture an aircraft engine !!!, are we some lame and dumb ?, Shiv what do you think, we should do to get a in house engine working ?
Thanks

Anonymous said...

But when are we going to get Saras?

Anonymous said...

What about the official classified history of Kargil war

Anonymous said...

Looks like ATR-72. Are we going to reverse engineer the plane apart from reversing its name. I had expected a more modern design like Q400 NextGen. Selling stuff to military is one thing but you cant force it down the throat of commercial airlines if there are better alternatives available to them.
Its another unfortunate example of how govt labs take on commercial projects with no commercial consideration. To be financially viable HAL must secure enough launch orders to justify its development. Of course they wont take so much trouble. Most likely Air India in 2020 will find itself saddled with an obsolete type that other competitors wont buy. Not a bail out AI is looking for.

Anonymous said...

genius anon @ 9:41 kindly enlighten us on how many countries can design and make civil jet engines.

all the rest are dumb ?

Anonymous said...

FA and JAA will never certify this POS. Wonder how many innocent Indians will die in this aircraft. I don't think any provate Indian airline would like to operate this POS over old, proven ATRs. MX is a big deal for airlines, and we all know how the PSU/Sarkari mentality is with regards to that.

Akhand Bharat said...

Ahh as i see it Pakis have already started trolling as usual don't worry we'll lend you guys a few of these in case the fighting in SWAT goes on till next decade or so..it'll be useful for carrying the bodies of dead caveman mullahs & Pakistani soldiers...and you won't have to beg in front of your chinese masters & american gods for aids & helicopters...talk about jealousy eh lol...

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha@Akhand Bharat! Nice one, dude

Anonymous said...

To the low life at @10:41 PM, why do we even need sukhoi's or lca's or mca's ?, just use sivakasi rockets !!!
Do you ever think beyond being a second rate country ?, what is that we lack that we cannot make an engine ?, are you comfortable with us being second best ??

Anonymous said...

i won't sit in this aircraft even if its available before a decade from now

Anonymous said...

Everyone who is doubful of program is a Paki. What if some of those guys who post here are actually Indian?

sachin_sathe said...

NICE FIND shiv.

I think this project will go through with relative ease since the experience and infrastructure for building subsystems like Fly-by -wire,noise-control systems already exists in the country.Akso with HAL's considerable experience in composit materials(courtesy LCA project) the material developement cycle will be much much smaller than what it was for LCA project.

Also if this a/c is to compete with ATr's and embraers in same class then the payload capasity will be around 7500kg which means tht if the a/c can achieve 2000+km range with this payload then it can even replace the AN-32 in the IAF's service and would be an excellent complement for the MTA.

what r ur thoughts?

Disappointed Patriot said...

Total waste of money. It's like a state-owned enterprise trying to build a new sedan when Toyota and Honda already make perfectly reliable and affordable Corollas and Civics.

Contrast our pathetic efforts with Embraer's strategic thinking that allowed them to crack the US market. They found a niche that was underserved and went for it. We on the other hand are producing a generic product in an area that has plenty of existing products and that will be foisted on reluctant local buyers who would rather have lower risk ATRs and Embraers.

Besides, they should first concentrate on making the Saras a success. Our aerospace establishment will just never learn from history.

Anonymous said...

Still propeller driven? Why?

anthony said...

Still propeller driven? Why?

Resistance to dust, sand, cold and moisture.

Anonymous said...

Resistance to dust, sand, cold and moisture.

Anty, you fool, tell that to Embraer who have been selling turbofan equipped jets in record numbers. Tell that to Sukhoi who have just prepared a new turbofan equpped jet for the same market. The real reason is that turboprops are usually more fuel efficient, if more noisy and slow.

Packers Movers said...

NAL is developing the RTA-70 as a platform "capable of reliable and safe operation from airports with minimal infrastructure and instrumentation facility under all-weather conditions.