Indian state-owned aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has introduced a 19-seater aircraft in a first major attempt to develop small civil transport aircraft. Hindustan 228 can be operated even in semi-prepared and unpaved airstrips, reported news agency ANI.

“The design has been transferred to us from Dornier GmbH. This particular aircraft is under type certification and will have it in the name of Hindustan 228. All the testing parameters have been completed,” ANI quoted Apurba Roy, General Manager, HAL as saying.

Roy said that there is a huge potential for small civil transport aircraft in the market as there are few in India and across the world that are designed for short-haul travel and can operate on a semi-prepared runway. The multi-utility aircraft can be used as an ambulance, cargo, and parajam or paradrop, among others.

The senior HAL official said that the company is making six more such aircraft.

The aircraft has no toilet and the seating capacity will be reduced to 17 in case a toilet is added to it.

The engine of the aircraft is not made in India.

"There is a lot of interest shown from the state governments as well as private parties to make it deployable in the Udaan scheme," Roy added.

Earlier this month, a ground-breaking ceremony was held in Goa for a new facility of Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt Limited (HE-MRO), a joint venture of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran. The facility, located in Sattari, 40km from Panaji, will be operational by the end of 2023, HAL said.