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Pilot who built aircraft on rooftop signs Rs 35K-crore pact with Maha to make 1st plane factory of India

Pilot who built aircraft on rooftop signs Rs 35K-crore pact with Maha to make 1st plane factory of India

The project, which also includes several ancillary hubs that'll be required in the facility, will be spread over 157 acre of land in Palghar district, which is around 140km from Mumbai.

The story of pilot Captain Amol Yadav is a shining example of Make in India. A professional who dreamt to build an aircraft with meagre sources goes on to bag one of the biggest and first aircraft building projects undertaken by state governments is, no less than a marvellous feat. Maharashtra-based Amol, who's a senior commander with Jet Airways, after his seven years of grit and continuous dedication, was able to clear various bureaucratic hurdles and grab the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Amol's company has now signed a whopping Rs 35,000-crore deal with state government to build over 1,300 aircraft (19-seater) in multiple phases. The MoU was signed on the Day 3 of Magnetic Maharashtra Global Investors Summit being held in Bandra, Mumbai, on Tuesday.

Project, facility & stage

The project, which also includes several ancillary hubs that'll be required in the facility, will be spread over 157 acre of land in Palghar district, which is around 140km from Mumbai. The investment in the first phase - the next six months - to manufacture prototype 19-seater plane and three more similar planes for production would entail funding of around Rs 200 crore. "Our target, from the Rs 35,000-crore investment, is very simple. We want to make 600 19-seater planes in the next 2-3 years and then take it to 1,300 planes after that. We are planning for 1300 19-seater planes at present," said the 42-year-old pilot told PTI.

His six-seater aircraft is in initial stage and still requires some components to be installed before it is ready to fly. Some components "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 told HT. Yadav's current aircraft has Pratt & Whitney engine, which 30-year-old, tested and tried.

10,000 jobs to boost Make in India agenda

The MoU signed between Yadav's Thrust Aircraft Private Limited company and the Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) will create over 10,000 jobs, a number that'll surely give PM Modi and his government some much-needed impetus to boast about jobs creation under a 'Make in India' story. The Maharashra government has provided land for the project on the Kelwe Road Station, and the plant construction would start in the next months. Once the construction completes, Amol's company would start making first official prototype aircraft. "Fadnavis wants the first plane making factory of the country to be in Maharashtra. The MIDC will provide us land and support facilities like roads," Yadav told PTI. The setting up of the project would mark creation of a plane manufacturing hub where many other similar factories would be set up in the future, said Amol.

Not an easy road

It's never an easy road to the top. Initially, Amol faced several hurdles due to the lack of proper financial resources and support from the government institutions concerned. He even sold his house for Rs 4 crore, as per HT, and built the entire project from the rooftop of a building in Charkop. However, the pilot-turned-entrepreneur knows art of conveying the right message to those who matter. His first obstacle was getting approval from the aviation ministry, which was denied to him. Not ready to be bogged down, Amol pleaded Fadnavis and PM Modi and soon got approval from the PMO to showcase his prototype. Even after PMO nod, it took Amol six years to get registration certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for his six-seater plane in November 2017. The aircraft, whose registration number VT-NMD refers to the initials of PM Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis, was a centre of attraction during 'Make in India' week in February 2016.

Skepticism over project

Aviation experts suggest the Maharashtra government's decision to sign the MoU seems to be taken in haste as the similar opportunity should have been given to others entrepreneurs as the sole purpose of 'Make in India' is to encourage maximum participation from young minds. There are set international aviation body guidelines that need be followed before finalising the product, they say, adding the government seems to have given green signal to the project without analysing the actual return on investment in aircraft construction facility.