India recently became the manufacturing centre for C295 tactical transport aircraft to be manufactured by the Tata-Airbus consortium for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the manufacturing hub of the plant in Gujarat.
Following this, it was revealed that Embraer, a Brazilian plane manufacturer, is looking for a manufacturing partner for its proposed new-generation turboprop, for which India is also being considered. The topic has been discussed for some time, and recent reports bolster the possibility that India will consider it.
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Tata-Airbus consortium's C295
Construcciones Aeronauticas SA, a Spanish aircraft manufacturer, first produced the C295. This company is now part of Airbus, and the aircraft is built at Airbus's plant in Spain. In September 2021, India agreed to pay Rs 21,935 crore to Airbus Defence and Space for 56 C295 planes to replace the IAF's ageing Avro-748 planes, which entered service in the early 1960s.
What are the technical specifications of the C295 aircraft?
The C295MW is a transport aircraft with a capacity of 5 to 10 tonnes and a top speed of 480 kmph. It has a back ramp door for quick response and para-dropping troops and cargo. Other features include short take-off and landings from semi-prepared surfaces.
According to Airbus' technical specifications, the aircraft's cabin measures 12.7 metres (41 feet and eight inches). The company claims that this aircraft has the longest unobstructed cabin in its class, with 71 seats. The company also claims that with direct off-loading via the rear ramp, the C295 can carry more cargo than its competitors.
What are the roles that the C295 can perform?
As a tactical transport aircraft, the C295 can transport troops and logistical supplies from the country's main airfields to forward operating airfields. It can also operate on short unprepared airstrips due to its Short Take-Off and Landing capability (STOL). According to Airbus, it can fly low-level operations for tactical missions from short airstrips as short as 2,200 feet long and at a low speed of 110 knots.
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Embraer, a Brazilian plane manufacturer, stated, "We are in discussions with potential partners in India and around the world about a variety of collaboration opportunities for the next generation turboprop aircraft, including manufacturing. These discussions are ongoing and progressing well."
The aircraft, however, is still in development, and the project's commitment to launch is still pending. According to reports, the Brazilian manufacturer hopes to start work on the project next year, with the plane ready for service by 2028.
Meanwhile, India has made significant progress in aircraft manufacturing over the years. The trend primarily refers to foreign manufacturers working with Indian manufacturers on product development.
HAL, which manufactures the Hindustan-228, the domestic version of the Dornier-228, and has integrated several Indian businesses into the global ecosystem of Airbus and Boeing's supply chains, has also made significant progress. Furthermore, locating a manufacturing facility in India can benefit both the economy and the Indian aviation industry.