MIDC signs Rs35,000-cr JV with pilot who built 6-seater aircraft on rooftop

20 February 2018

Maharashtra government has decided to lease 157 acres of land at Kelwe in Palghar district to Captain Amol Yadav, months after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) cleared the six-seater aircraft the Dahanu, Mumbai-based pilot built on his rooftop.

The Maharashtra government inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company promoted by Amol Yadav to set up an indigenous factory for smaller aircraft, and develop Palghar as an aviation hub, even before the DGCA approved Yadav's Thrust Aircraft for flight operations (See: Amol Yadav's `Make in India' plane project gets land in Palghar).

The DGCA had, however, cleared the six-seater aircraft built by Thrust Aircraft Pvt Ltd for flight tests.

The Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) and Thrust Aircraft Pvt Ltd have entered into a joint venture agreement for setting up a pilot project worth Rs35,000 crore.

Under the MoU signed at the 'Magnetic Maharashtra' investors' summit, the state will give Yadav's firm 157 acres of land at Kelwe in Palghar district, roughly 140 km north of Mumbai.

Yadav, who was a commercial aircraft pilot, said he is ''delighted'' with the development and ''mindful of the responsibility'' ahead. But he admitted the six-seater aircraft his company built has still not been tested.

''We are awaiting a few components. They have come to India and are with the Customs. Once they are fitted [into the aircraft] we will have the official test flight in March or April,'' Yadav said.

Yadav spent six years building the six-seater plane, which now bears the registration number VT–NMD - after the initials of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

A resident of Charkop, Yadav sold his house and spent Rs4 crore to build the airplane on the rooftop of a building in Kandivli. In February 2016, it was put on display at an exhibition at the 'Make in India' week. Currently, the aircraft is parked at the airport.

The plane is made of aluminium, is 10.8 feet high, and was put together under the guidance of retired Air Marshal Murali Sundaram, and an advisory panel of IIT-B professors.

Although he managed to build the aircraft, the aviation ministry was not keen to allow him to conduct trials (See: DGCA lets 'Made in India' plane rot for five years: report). After he was denied permission, Yadav petitioned Fadnavis and Modi. According to Yadav, there were bureaucratic roadblocks even after the PMO intervened for him to get the required permissions.

''After a long battle of six years, the aircraft was finally registered in November 2017, after a follow-up by CM and with the help of the PMO,'' Yadav said.

According to Rasmikant Yadav, managing director, Thrust Aircraft Private Limited, and Anmol's elder brother, the government of Maharashtra allotted land on both sides of the Kelwe Road station, which would be handed over to the MIDC within a month. ''After getting the necessary permission, we plan to construct the plant within six months,'' said Yadav. ''The prime minister is likely to inaugurate the plant,'' Rashmikant said.

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