Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NAL Targets Early 2011 For First Flight Of New Five-Seater


Aviation Daily Mar 10 , 2010 , p. 11
Neelam Mathews

Bengaluru, India-based National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) has frozen the design of a five-seat turboprop aircraft developed as part of a public/private partnership with the Mahindra & Mahindra Group (M&M).

With the weight within limits and critical design completed, the prototype of the NM5-100, which is awaiting certification by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, is scheduled to fly early in 2011.

Meanwhile, NAL’s regional transport aircraft is awaiting the government’s nod, which may take some time considering it is awaiting a report from the DGCA concerning an accident of a NAL-designed, 14-seat Saras during a test flight last year that killed three Indian air force pilots. Saras was powered by two turboprop engines from Pratt & Whitney and was to replace the air force’s aging Dornier 228 transport aircraft fleet.

NM5-100 is designed to be easily converted for passenger, training or cargo operations. The aircraft will not be using any composite materials to save on costs.

While the marketing will be handled by M&M, NAL will flight test the aircraft, and once it is certified, Mahindra will produce it at its facility on the outskirts of Bengaluru, formerly Bangalore. Mahindra is also looking at a CASA certification in Australia, where there is high demand for pilot/owners in this class, said NAL scientist CV Giri Raj. The public/private partnership has proved to be a big win for both, he added.

Recently, Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director of M&M, declared, “We want to be the Embraer of India.”

The company acquired a majority stake in Australian general aviation manufacturer Gippsland Aeronautics and is also looking at closing a deal with aircraft component and assemblies manufacturer Aerostaff Australia. Both companies will prove an asset to M&M, which is looking long-term at a range of general aviation fleets.

Gippsland recently acquired FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certifications for its new turbocharged GA8-TC 320 Airvan. The Airvan is powered by a turbocharged Lycoming TIO-540-AH1A engine. The University of Arizona was recently asked to review the NM5’s design.

Gippsland has a new 10-seat turboprop utility aircraft, the GA10, which it will produce jointly with Mahindra. It also plans to return the 16-passenger twin turboprop N24 to manufacture.

During the design and development phase of the NM-5, a combined technical team from both organizations would be involved, followed by design validation and testing using the extensive facilities of government-owned NAL. The developmental phase will be followed by certification for FAR-23 Section 56 standards both within India and internationally.

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