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Saturday, Jan 10, 2004

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CSIR to launch prototype of 14-seater aircraft soon

Amit Mitra

Mumbai , Jan. 9

THE Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is all set to take Indian research to new heights.

Within the next few weeks, the CSIR, which has forayed into new areas of research in the last few years, will be unveiling a prototype of a 14-seater aircraft that has the potential to add a new dimension to the civil aviation sector in India.

Having incorporated the latest equipment and leveraging the experience that it has gained in aircraft design and manufacture while working with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the CSIR believes that the 14-seater aircraft can be used in the domestic civil aviation sector for short hauls, especially in the North-East.

Its confidence stems from the fact that the results of the aircraft's trial runs so far have indicated that it will be a fuel-efficient carrier.

"The results have shown that the aircraft will consume 15 to 20 per cent less fuel than the existing aircrafts, which would significantly bring down the cost of air transportation in terms of passengers per km," Dr R.A Mashelkar, CSIR Director-General, told Business Line. The council, which has the largest chain of industrial research and development institutions in the world with 38 laboratories and employing 22,000 people across the country, had successfully completed the test flying of the aircraft recently.

It is scheduled to launch the taxiing trials shortly so as to have the prototype ready within the next few weeks.

The CSIR's efforts to bring out a new aircraft model in India for short hauls have already attracted the attention of the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Indian Air Force.

"The Indian Air Force is in the process of placing orders for six such aircrafts, even before we have brought out the prototype.

"This indicates the confidence the various user-industries have in our efforts," Dr Mashelkar pointed out.

The 14-seater model will be the second in the series to be launched by CSIR, the first being a two-seater model that was brought out about a year ago.

"The model will serve as a multi-purpose air transport and surveillance carrier. We have estimated that India may require some 230 to 250 such small aircrafts for short hauls. Building of the prototype has cost us about Rs 23 crore," Dr Mashelkar said.

He cited the example of Brazil, where a significant number of 30-seater aircrafts are used to ferry passengers across short distances.

Apart from the aircraft project, the CSIR plans to sharpen its focus on another largely untapped area — making use of India's ancient knowledge in herbal medicine to combat the prevailing diseases.

In this segment, the council is in the process of bringing out a new herbal-based product to cure ulcer.

"The product will be a herbal alternative to the anti-ulcer drug, omerprozal, which is considered to be one of the world's fastest selling drugs due to the increasing number of ulcer patients," he said.

The CSIR had recently completed animal trials for its anti-ulcer herbal product, which has thrown up encouraging results.

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