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The Indian government finds itself at a crossroads in its quest to boost its domestic aviation industry. With the world’s fastest-growing air travel market, the need for efficient and affordable regional connectivity is paramount. Two tempting propositions lie on the table: locally manufacturing the Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 or the Brazilian Embraer SA’s small narrow-body jets.

However, the allure of domestic jet production is tempered by the undeniable dominance of Airbus and Boeing. Securing their commitment to set up local assembly lines remains a challenge, despite the mega orders placed by Indian private airlines.

The allure of Sukhoi and Embraer lies in their potential to cater to regional routes, where smaller, fuel-efficient planes are crucial for profitability. Indian private operators yearn for jets that are cheaper to own and operate, making these routes a viable business proposition.

The government, meanwhile, is playing its part by subsidizing airlines to make air travel more accessible. The “regional connectivity program” further underscores its commitment to improving last-mile connectivity through smaller planes.

The decision before the government is not merely about choosing a jet. It’s about charting the future of India’s aviation industry. Selecting a jet for local production has far-reaching implications. The chosen aircraft will be offered not only to domestic companies but also potentially exported to other regional markets.

Several factors will likely influence the final decision. Operational costs, fuel efficiency, maintenance requirements, and, of course, the price tag itself will all be weighed carefully. Additionally, the potential for technology transfer and skill development with the chosen manufacturer will be a crucial consideration.

The clock is ticking, and the pressure is mounting. With the aviation market soaring, the Indian government must make a decisive move. Balancing the allure of local production with the established players’ presence necessitates a strategic and well-calculated decision. This choice will not only shape the future of regional connectivity but also determine India’s position as a potential player in the global jet manufacturing landscape.

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