NEW DELHI: In a first for Indian carriers, Alliance Air (AA) will soon be using a made-in-India aircraft for scheduled passenger flights. AA is inducting two Dornier 228 turboprops manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to its fleet and hopes to start commercial flights on them by this March.

AA, currently a part of Air India group as its regional turboprop arm, is not being sold off with the Maharaja. The government is divesting its stake in AI and AI Express. AA will continue to remain state-owned even after the Maharaja is sold off.

Alliance Air CEO Harpreet A De Singh

This 19-seater aircraft was exclusively used by defence forces and was authorised for civilian use in 2018. With a list price of Rs. 50-55 crore, HAL says it compares favourably with similar size turboprops made abroad for operating short routes under the government’s ambitious regional connectivity UDAN scheme.

AA CEO Harpreet A De Singh said: "In line with our PM's vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, Alliance Air will be the first airline in the country to fly HAL's made in India aircraft, Dornier 228. The MoU will be signed at the Aero India on Friday (Feb 5) between us and HAL. I look forward to leading Alliance Air with the vision of our PM and make it Atmanirbhar (by) operating made in India aircraft."

The non-pressurised Dornier 228 has a lavatory and an air-conditioned cabin which is capable of day and night operations.

The HAL website describes its 19-seater Dornier 228 as “highly versatile multi-purpose light transport aircraft… developed specifically to meet the manifold requirements of utility and commuter transport, third level services and air-taxi operations, coast guard duties and maritime surveillance” apart from air ambulances.

The non-pressurised plane has maximum cruise speed of 428 kmph and a range of 700 km.

HAL has a capacity to assemble about 12 Dornier 228 annually at its Kanpur facility and can up to double the number of planes churned out as per demand.

A senior HAL official had earlier told TOI that regional operators -- the potential customers for this aircraft -- face an issue with the desi passenger plane.

“India as of now does not have companies providing sale and lease back (SLB) for planes. Our airlines do SLB for their planes which makes it viable for them to induct planes. Many people approaching us want to take the SLB route. We have approached Indian banks to start this facility,” the official had said after Dornier was allowed to be used for passenger flights in 2018.

HAL is also examining the possibility making amphibious plane which can land both on land and water.