Written by By Staff Writer
Known in some circles as the Indian Air Force, the air force is now proposing that an Indian passenger airline — with a range of 5,000 nautical miles and passengers seating from 50 to 200 — be launched within four years.
While this may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, the reason for the idea isn’t crazy.
“It’s a practical project that can add to passenger traffic,” says Air Vice Marshal Atul Chatterjee, Aeronautical Director of the Indian Air Force. “About 1.2 million people fly on Indian domestic flights every month and the fleet is also short of fuel.”
Getting a Mach 5 passenger plane launched would also be cheaper than developing one by itself, he says.
“Not all aircraft can fly Mach 5. For example, a 747 is capable of Mach 4.5 and an A380 is Mach 3.5,” says Chatterjee. “We would need to reengineer our current wide body passenger aircraft to make them at least Mach 4.5 or Mach 5.
“For example, when the JET Trainer was being developed, they had to widen the fuselage to accommodate twin engine planes,” he adds.
During a press conference for the first official India Air Force Air Show in Bengaluru , held from May 9 to 11, President Aditya Ramaswamy reviewed the progress of the project, which was first envisioned by the IAF in 2001.
In the same conference, IAF Chairman Air Marshal BS Dhanoa said a test flight with an operational variant could be conducted in about four years.
Both Dhanoa and Chatterjee say that air traffic within India is set to swell even more, with the population of India expected to expand to 1.2 billion by 2050.