The aerospace arm of the Mahindra Group is flight-testing its first turboprop aircraft, developed in Australia and aimed at a global market for small, utility planes. The 10-seater aircraft, which is being built by Gipps Aero, the group's subsidiary in Australia, is expected to be in production by 2014.
The new model, which is a re-engined and enlarged version of an existing 8-seater, is currently undergoing flight trials in Australia along with the NM5, a 5-seater plane that was designed and developed in India by Mahindra in collaboration with the state-run National Aerospace Laboratories. The certification of the NM5 in India was initially planned to run concurrently, but has been delayed.
“We are focussing our energy on bringing the 10-seater turboprop to the market,” said Hemant Luthra, president, Mahindra Systech. “The 10-seater is a commercial priority for us. That’s because of the availability of the fuel apart from its fuel economy.”
Turboprops use ATF while piston-engined aircraft, which make up Gipps Aero’s current line of products, use aviation gas which is not easily available. “The key markets would be Australia, Africa, Latin America and N America, particularly in Alaska and so on, remote regions where it will be more economical to have small planes flying,” Luthra said.