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.