A grant of Rs 49.56 crore has been made for conducting a feasibility study for an indigenous 90 seater civilian plane to fly on regional and feeder routes, an official said on Thursday.
"A feasibility study with a total cost of Rs 49.56 crore with a duration of one year for development of a National Civil Aircraft for regional connectivity is being conducted," said the spokesperson of the science and technology ministry.
The study has been commissioned by the state run Council for Scientific and Industrial Research under a 15 member committee and will be in a collaboration with the aviation arm of the research institution, National Aerospace Laboratories.
According to officials involved in the project, the design and development of the prototype is estimated to cost around $1 billion (a little over Rs.5,000 crore). The flight trials are expected in 2015-16.
Another mandate given to the expert panel is to explore a public-private partnership right at the beginning. Interested industrial houses will be asked to submit their expression of interest for selection, officials said.
Earlier, a high powered committee (HPC) was constituted under space scientist G. Madhavan Nair to look into the feasibility of the project.
Various estimates indicate a latent demand of around 500-600 regional jets in India, and 3,500-4000 globally. The major players in the segment include Canadian Bombardier, Brazil's Embraer, European ATR and USA's Cessna.
According to the spokesperson, the project is also expected to draw from the experience of aerospace experts in state-run institutions such as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Hindustan Aeronautics.
"The National Civil Aircraft Development Project involves configuration, market survey, development of a joint venture and full-scale engineering development for the ambitious plan," spokesperson said.
"The report is expected some time in the middle of 2011," the spokesperson added.