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Embraer, a renowned Brazilian aerospace company, has extended an enticing offer to Indian manufacturers, presenting them with the opportunity to collaborate on its next-generation turboprop concept. This innovative proposal has the potential to revolutionize regional transport aircraft in India. The concept, which has been evolving since its inception in 2017, showcases a conventionally powered turboprop design with twin engines at the rear of the fuselage, capable of ferrying between 70 and 90 passengers.

Embraer’s approach to the development of its regional turboprop is characterized by careful consideration and strategic collaboration. The company has taken a patient approach, emphasizing the importance of finding suitable partners in India. Among the potential collaborators is Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a state-owned aerospace and defence company. HAL previously had plans to develop regional turboprop aircraft in partnership with the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). Embraer’s proposal aligns with India’s ambitions to strengthen its aerospace capabilities.

Dr. Abhay A. Pashilkar, Director of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories, has shed light on the financial aspects of developing a Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA-90). He estimates that the project would require an investment of $2 billion, to be executed under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Model. This model aims to engage private sector companies in India to facilitate the project’s funding and implementation. Pashilkar also points out that starting with a clean slate design would necessitate the full $2 billion investment, but the involvement of an established or derivative design from another Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) could reduce costs, provided a joint venture with a foreign OEM is established.

Industry experts have noted that the turboprop concept is ideally suited from a cost perspective to serve small feeder routes, especially considering the demand-to-capacity ratios. The operational economics of turboprop aircraft make them an attractive choice for connecting smaller towns and cities, where existing airports have recently been modified to accommodate such smaller aircraft. The economics of turboprops align to make previously unprofitable routes viable, expanding air travel options for a broader segment of the population.

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