At a time when the government is going full throttle with its `Make in India' programme, the bureaucracy in the country seems to be unmindful of the need for encouraging local manufacturing, at least the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is, as reports suggest.
Reports say despite India's half-baked fighter aircraft programme that is still unfinished after spending over Rs17,000 crore, a Mumbai-based pilot and his Thrust Aviation Company have managed to manufacture a six-seater aircraft that is fully indigenous except for the engine, navigation system and landing gear.
The small aircraft, which was on display at the recently concluded Make-in-India event, cost the manufacturer a mere Rs6 crore, according to reports.
The plane, however, is yet to take to the sky for want of flight safety certificate, because of by bureaucratic hurdles. Amol Yadav, the brain behind the aircraft, has been fighting this hurdle for the past five years.
Yadav has been working on building indigenous aircraft for the past 17 years and he finally succeeded in 2011 when he finished making the TAC 03 (named for the third attempt by his company).
The aircraft has a 350 horse-power engine, which is capable of reaching speeds of 192 knots (about 355 km per hour). It can reach an altitude of 13,000 feet and has a range of up to 1,200 km. The aircraft is also fitted with high-end navigation systems.
However, the DGCA won't allow Yadav to conduct test flights and clear the path for commercial operations.
Yadav, who works for Jet Airways, got lucky after one of his relatives had a meeting with defence minister Manohar Parrikar and introduced him to the minister.
''The minister was quite impressed when he heard our story and our intention to build indigenous aircraft and hence save billions of dollars of foreign exchange for the country. But the DGCA has not even responded to our application in the last five years,'' the Hindu BusinessLine quoted Yadav as saying.
It was Parrikar's intervention that helped Yadav and a little help from HAL that helped Yadav showcase his innovation at the Make-in-India event.
Yadav says no one except the defence minister has shown any interest in the project, which is cheap and fully localized.
Yadav says given support from the government and defence ministry, ''We are confident that we can make even fighter jets, if given a chance.'' In fact, he said, localized production would be 40 per cent cheaper.
Also, Yadav says, DGCA need not have any issue against the project as he has been meeting all the guidelines and following all the rules.