April 12 has gone down in the annals of the country’s civil aviation industry with a made-in-India aircraft, the Dornier-228, taking to the skies on its maiden commercial flight to Arunachal Pradesh from Assam. With Tuesday’s flight, Alliance Air has become India’s first commercial airline to fly the Indian-made aircraft for civil operations.
Dornier-228 aircraft has been used by the armed forces till now.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia took to Twitter to announce the launch of the first-ever commercial services by the Dornier aircraft and termed it as a historic day for the northeast and India. “This will connect the airstrips of Arunachal Pradesh with Assam, and soon with other regions. Indeed, a new chapter in India’s “Look East” policy!” the minister said.
Mr. Scindia also tweeted a short video of the aircraft taking off from Dibrugarh in Assam.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) last week handed over the first multi-purpose Do-228 aircraft to Alliance Air, months after the Centre-run airlines entered into an agreement with HAL under the UDAN scheme to boost connectivity in the northeast.
In September 2021, HAL signed a lease agreement with Alliance Air Aviation Limited for the supply of two civil Do-228 aircraft for regional operations in Arunachal Pradesh. The agreement was signed in Bengaluru. Speaking on the occasion, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said it was a big day for the State. Given the geographical challenges, the connectivity will now be easier, he said .Alliance Air received its first Dornier-228 on April 7.
Confirming the delivery of the first ‘made in India’ Do-228, Alliance Air wrote in a tweet, “The light transport aircraft will facilitate regional connectivity in northeastern states and better connectivity.”
Connectivity boost in northeast
A government release on April 11 said the Ministry of Civil Aviation had identified the northeast as a priority area under the UDAN scheme to boost connectivity in the region. “In a bid to further boost air connectivity of the region with the rest of the country, the ministry has approved a scheme – ‘Providing air connectivity and Aviation infrastructure in North Eastern Region (NER)’ to promote air connectivity in the States of NER and, if required, to develop infrastructure for air connectivity,” the government said.
“This has helped in enhancing inter and intra connectivity for the NER. In this regard, new airports are getting developed and old airports are getting upgraded,” the release read.
It noted that as part of the NER scheme, April 12 will mark the first civil flight of Do-228 from Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.
About UDAN scheme
The Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme, which is also known as the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 to connect small and medium cities with big cities through air service. The aim was to take flying to the masses and improve air connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
The scheme started in October 2016 with the first flight taking off from Shimla to Delhi in April 2017.
What are the key features of Do-228?
The 17-seater non-pressurised Dornier-228 aircraft has a turboprop engine and is fitted with an AC cabin. It is capable of day and night operations, short take-off and landing, and can land and take off from semi-prepared runways.
According to the official HAL website, the state-owned defence company built Dornier-228 to specifically “meet the manifold requirements of utility and commuter transport, air-taxi operations, coast guard duties and maritime surveillance”.
The aircraft was made for VIP transport, passenger transport, air ambulance, flight inspection roles, and recreational activities like para jumping, aerial surveillance, photography and cargo applications, the website adds.
“The aircraft could be utilised successfully by civil operators and state governments for their intra and inter-state connectivity with seamless support towards training, maintenance and logistics,” the defence company states.
As per a modification document of Do-228, the civil aircraft will be equipped with a digital cockpit to ensure accurate readings, precise information and capability for self-check to alert the pilot in emergencies.
Dornier 228 was designed and first manufactured by Dornier GmbH. After securing product licence, HAL started the manufacturing at its transport aircraft division in Kanpur after transfer of technology from the German firm.
Where will Do-228 operate?
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday said Alliance Air will initially fly the Dibrugarh-Pasighat sector. The route will see operations twice a week from April 18. The aircraft will operate in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tezu and Ziro in the coming days.
As per the minister, remote towns like Vijaynagar and Mechuka will be connected in the second phase.
- April 12 has gone down in the annals of the country’s civil aviation industry with a made-in-India aircraft, the Dornier-228, taking to the skies on its maiden commercial flight to Arunachal Pradesh from Assam
- Dornier-228 aircraft has been used by the armed forces till now
- The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) last week handed over the first multi-purpose Do-228 aircraft to Alliance Air, months after the Centre-run airlines entered into an agreement with HAL under the UDAN scheme to boost connectivity in the northeast