New Delhi. Indian Ministry of Defence signed a deal with Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel to buy micro light aircraft Virus SW 80 “GARUD”, as a result of “Request for Technical and CommercialProposal (RFP) for Microlight Aircraft” Air HQ/S 96066/4/ASR/MoD2395/DPB/AW-
Air(T)/MA/Vol-1 dated April 13th 2011.
Pipistrel was selected as the winning bidder in the tendering competition among eleven international Original Equipment Manufacturers / Authorized Vendors and will equip Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Navy (IN) and National Cadet Corps (NCC) . Pipistrel will begin with the deliveries to more than 100 locations all over India in 8 months’ time. All 194 aircraft must be delivered within a period of thirty months after the first delivery.
The contract also binds Pipistrel to deliver a further 100 aircraft after the third year, should the buyer want so. All together this means that Pipistrel will produce almost 300 aircraft.The design chosen by India is a two-seat trainer, capable of take-off and landing on prepared as well as semi-prepared surfaces. Made from advanced carbon-fibre composite materials it is capable of carrying 2 crew members and their equipment.
Pipistrel’s CEO Ivo Boscarolin informed that this was a no defence offsets contract and all the planes would be made in the factory in Slovenia .
” The aircraft is powered by an 80 HP 912 Rotex aviation certified engine and can reach a maximum speed of more than 220 km/h, fly for minimum of 3 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 6000 meters. The aircraft will be used exclusively for training of Flight Safety and Air Wing Cadets, so Pipistrel equipped it also with a special Ballistic Parachute Rescue System which saves the entire aircraft and both pilots in the case of accident,” he added.
The aircraft have also several other safety-enhancing features, such as Energy Attenuation Seats and a KevlarTM reinforced cockpit cell. Pipistrel’s Virus SW 80 “GARUD”, named after a bird that appears in Hindu mythology and is the mount of the god Vishnu, was thoroughly tested. All the aircraft participating in the tender were tested in the extreme Indian conditions such as high temperature and humidity, extreme altitudes and similar. “Garud” had successfully cleared all the evaluations at the Field and Maintainability Evaluation Trial.
“6 or 7 aircraft each month for India is our aim. This means that for the next two and a half years, half of Pipistrel’s production capacity is sold out,” said Boscarol after signing the contract. Pipistrel will equip IAF, IN and NCC with spare engines, ground support equipment and tools, special multi-year spare parts packs, extended 10-year product support, as well as train a large number of aircrew, instructors and technical staff.
The Indian personnel will be trained by a Pipistrel’s partner company from Slovenia, the Pipistrel Academy which trains pilots and new instructors. They will teach pilots how to fly the new aircraft and prepare the Indian instructors to perform further education themselves. Pipistrel will also train the mechanics, which will then provide continuous technical support and regular maintenance of the aircraft.
Pipistrel will not need to compensate sales with any offsets nor will they have to produce or assemble the aircraft in India. But the next logical step will be to have a facility in India to match with the Make in India plan. Pipistrel plans to have a Pipistrel India in 2016. Pipistrel is EASA approved aircraft designer (DOA 21J.524) and certified aircraft producer (POA).
Slovenian Ambassador designate Excellency Jozef Drofenik was elated on the signing of the deal and was hopeful that the this will be the beginning of a longstanding relation between the two nations.