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The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s National Aerospace Laboratories has proposed the Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA), a 90-seat Twin-turboprop aircraft. Currently in the project definition phase, the RTA awaits grants for full-scale engineering development to be cleared by the Indian government. Efforts are underway to involve the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, and Alliance Air, which functions as an independent business unit under the central government, in the program.

Dr Abhay A. Pashilkar, Director of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories, recently stated that the clean sheet design and development of the country’s first regional aircraft would require up to $2 billion in funding. The project will be executed under a Special Purpose Vehicle to ensure efficient execution.

Once funding hurdles are cleared, Alliance Air, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy could become launch customers of the RTA-90. The Indian government is likely to support the program since it aligns with the country’s efforts to activate and build more airports to expand domestic travel.

It is unclear whether the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy will use the RTA-90 as a cargo aircraft or to transport troops. The Indian Navy may consider equipping the RTA-90 as a low-cost, consistent, sea-surface surveillance platform for surveillance, exclusive economic zone patrol, and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.

The RTA-90 aircraft will be equipped with a glass cockpit featuring five LCD screens as standard fitment, along with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components for a better interface and high-resolution graphics. It will likely be powered by the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100/PW150 engine family and will cruise at a maximum speed of 550 km/h.

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