Hansa-NG, the National Aerospace Laboratories’ twin-seater trainer aircraft, makes its maiden flight

Published : September 03, 2021 20:35 IST

The maiden flight of Hansa-NG in Bengaluru on September 3. Photo: By Special Arrangement

In a significant step in the National Aerospace Laboratories’ (NAL’s) long quest to design, develop and commercially exploit the market for two-seater trainer aircraft, the Hansa New Generation (NG) trainer Hansa-NG successfully made its maiden flight in Bengaluru on September 3. The 20-minute sortie saw the first prototype of the Hansa-NG attain a maximum altitude of 4,000 feet and a speed of 80 knots before it made a successful touch down. Capt. Amit Dahiya, the test pilot, described the sortie as a “textbook flight”.

NAL, a constituent of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and India’s only government-owned aerospace research and development laboratory in the civilian sector, has been working on the Hansa-NG project ever since it was sanctioned by the Centre in 2018. It is an upgraded version of the two-seater Hansa trainer that was designed and developed by NAL. The Hansa, which had its first flight way back in 1993, was certified in 2000. Between 2000 and 2007, NAL built 12 Hansa aircraft, all of which were delivered to flying clubs across India through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The Hansa has logged more than 4,000 flying hours in all.

The unique features of the Hansa-NG are its glass cockpit with enhanced cabin comfort, a highly efficient and fully digitally controlled engine, electrically operated flaps, an extended endurance of up to six hours, low acquisition and low operating costs. Its long endurance makes it an attractive trainer for flying clubs who are in the commercial pilot training and licensing business. Its delta certification is expected in the next three to four months. NAL expects the certification to be completed in around 30 flights.

The Hansa-NG’s maiden flight was monitored in telemetry by senior officers, scientists and engineers from the DGCA, the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification and CSIR-NAL.

Speaking to Frontline, Jitendra Jadav, Director, CSIR-NAL, disclosed that CSIR-NAL are looking to peg the price of the Hansa-NG trainer between Rs.1.5 crore to 1.8 crore. This, he explained, will give the trainer an advantage in the crowded two-seater market where most comparative trainers are priced at around Rs.2.5 crore. NAL also claims that it has factored into the new trainer all the requirements that are needed for commercial flight training.

NAL said they had already received 72 letters of intent (LoI) from various flying clubs, including the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi, for the purchase of the new aircraft. NAL is in the process of identifying a partner for the production of the trainer and is already in talks with several entities, including defence public sector enterprise BEML Limited, the TATAs and Mesco Aerospace Ltd.

N. Rinku, Project Director, HANSA, disclosed that the partner will be identified once certification is completed. Said Rinku: “For our immediate production requirements, NAL itself will take full responsibility and, utilising the GOCO [government-owned company-operated] model, will look to manufacture between six to eight trainers. We will provide NAL facilities and sub-contract the manufacturing work.”