National Aerospace Laboratories, established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, is the principal organisation tasked with the responsibility for designing and developing civilian aircraft in the country. The organisation is currently undertaking the development of primarily three aircraft--Regional Transport Aircraft, 19-seater SARAS MK-II and trainer HANSA.

According to an ET Infra article from February 15, 2024, India’s ambitious project of designing and developing a 90-seater Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) faces a significant hurdle due to the lack of dedicated financing from the government. The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is entrusted with this critical task. However, without a clear funding mechanism, progress has been slower than desired.

The RTA program involves a clean-sheet design and development process, which necessitates substantial capital investment—up to $2 billion. While both NAL and HAL possess the scientific and engineering expertise for this endeavour, they require assured order commitments and a funding model that doesn’t directly impact the aircraft pricing.

Currently, there is no established precedent in India for funding civil aircraft development. However, experts suggest that the program could receive an initial push through grants or subsidies for the first few years. Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, acknowledges that the RTA program is still in its initial stages.

The government is encouraging Boeing and Airbus to set up final assembly lines in India to produce commercial aircraft. However, the country's own program to design and develop a regional transport aircraft is facing funding uncertainty.

In summary, securing adequate funding remains a critical challenge for India’s regional aircraft project, but efforts are ongoing to address this issue and propel the program forward.