'This project started with my mom mortgaging her mangalsutra.'
'I have been successfully keeping my dream alive by mortgaging my brother's house.'
If 15 million Indians decide to contribute just one rupee each, (yes you tread it right; just one rupee), Captain Amol Shivaji Yadav, who has built an indigenous six-seater airplane can finish the second mandatory test flight at 2,000 feet after which, in about six months, his company Thrust Aircraft Company can manufacture 100 airplanes in about an year.
If that wouldn't make aviation history in India by an Indian, what will?
"My dream of making airplanes in India, by an Indian, is at stake for me," says the 44-year-old ex-jet Airways pilot, who has built the TAC003 on the terrace of his house in Kandivali, north west Mumbai.
After spending more than 19 years to just get the permission to fly and about Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) of his and his family's hard-earned money, Captain Yadav is struggling to get another Rs 15 million to complete the 2,000 feet test flight by maneuvering the aircraft at that altitude as per Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms.
"I just need about one-and-a-half crore rupees; if I have it, I will just go ahead and finish it off tomorrow," Captain Yadav tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com when asked how prepared he is for this second test and the hurdle he needs to cross to do it.
On Independence Day 2020, Captain Yadav successfully completed a test flight -- which he considers was the most challenging -- showcasing his airplane's capabilities to taxi at high and low speed, turn his airplane 180 degrees on ground, take off in a balanced manner, keep the plane in air for a while and then descend and touch down on the same airstrip at Dhule airport in a straight line.
"If I stopped doing this I don't see for the next 20, 30 years, anybody who will dream of making airplanes in India," says Captain Yadav when asked what happens if he fails.
"100 per cent. There is no doubt about it!" he beams when asked about the odds of crossing the second hurdle of flying his plane 2,000 feet above ground.
Tell us about your first test flight that was successful...
I have been repeatedly saying the plane tests are successful. On this 15th August, our Independence Day, we announced that our airplane has successfully cleared the first phase of test flight schedule, wherein we needed to check if airplane can move ahead on ground.
We did certain technical maneuvers called slow speed taxi, high speed taxi, and then checked whether it can be turned 180 degrees on ground, if my airplane can break properly, and if it be maneuvered properly on the ground.
After that, we have to check whether the airplane can take off at the desired speed, which varies with the weight and temperature.
We have to calculate that and maybe at about close to 65 knots it takes off. This take off speed varies with every takeoff depending upon weight changes, temperature changes, tailwind, headwind; all these variables matter while deciding the takeoff speed.
The airplane lifted off very easily as expected; then after it takes off it is supposed to do a balanced flight.
But to land on the same runway what we wanted to do was climb and maintain a straight and level flight and then descend again on the same runway and land.
After the balance flight we have to descend and land on the same runway. After landing we have to apply brakes and stop before the runway ends.
These are the various very critical tests which we have completed successfully.
After getting the Permit to Fly from the DGCA, this test was conducted successfully by me.
We had cameras and other instruments installed in the airplane. All the flight parameters were recorded and will be handed over to the DGCA if they want to analyse the first test flight.
What is the next stage in achieving your dream of having an India-made airplane fly in Indian skies?
In the next phase we are going to take off and climb up to 2000 feet.
After reaching that altitude we will do various turns and after that we will commence our descent and land back again at the same (Dhule, in Maharashtra) airport.
When and where is it likely to happen?
It is planned at Dhule airport. That's the usual station of the airplane. We want to do it as soon as possible.
We are just expecting some more funds so that we can conduct these tests.
How are you managing the funds? Is that a big challenge?
I have not been getting any funds. I have received nothing. I have received no help from nobody. As simple and straightforward as that!
How much have you spent on your first test flight?
We have spent about Rs 6 crore till today, together. It's all my money, my family, my friends.
SEE: Captain Amol Yadav undertaking the successful take off and landing at Dhule airport.
No help from either the state government or the Union government?
Nobody has helped yet, except three gentlemen: one Mr Dinesh, Mr Kamlakar and Mr Lalit Kale.
How much will you need to conduct your second test?
The most critical tests of the airplane are conducted. Now, I will be going 2,000 feet high.
This machine is performing very beautifully, very responsive. Nice machine we have made. But whatever it is, it's a new airplane design, which I am going to test fly.
When we go 2,000 feet high, there is definitely a risk involved.
This project started with my mom mortgaging her mangalsutra.
I have been successfully keeping my dream alive by mortgaging my brother's house. So that is where it started and we are sustaining this way.
Suppose tomorrow when I go to 2,000 feet high and if things go against me and if I die, then my entire family will go bankrupt in a month.
My brother's house is under mortgage; we have used up all our savings and whatever else we had so that I can go about achieving my dream.
I am the most important earning member and if something untoward happens to me then my entire family will be out in the streets with no backup money.
Mine is a huge family; 18 people staying together. So, I am expecting at least Rs one-and-a -half crore in my account to take care of my family's financial needs and I can go up there, take that risk and finish it off.
I have been saying repeatedly that the tests are successful, but I was not saying that the airplane is flying.
Right now I am saying the airplane is flying because I have the insurance for the airplane.
Somehow, we have gathered that insurance money, which was very huge for me. Now I have insurance and the airplane is also insured.
If at all, I stopped doing this, I don't see for the next 20 years, 30 years, anybody who will dream of making airplanes in India.
My chief engineer keeps telling me that you are not allowed to fail anymore.
I just need about one-and-a-half crore rupees; if I have I will just go ahead and finish it off.
SEE: Capt Amol Yadav explains the details of the first test flight.
What are the chances that this 2,000 feet test will be successful?
100 per cent chances (of being successful). There is no doubt about it!
Once you complete this second test successfully, how long before a made in India aircraft is made in India? How many years more before a commercial aircraft will be manufactured in India?
Well, it depends on the financial help I will get after the second test flight is over.
It will not be hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees! Rs 100 crore to Rs 200 crore (Rs 1 billion to rs 2 billion) will suffice... because I consider if I have all the required finances, then to make one type of airplane we will need just six months.
Once we start manufacturing that airplane, we can manufacture hundred airplanes per year.
Will the second test be your final test?
The tests will go on in phases; there will be more tests, but the main test is to do something that is called the 'circuit'. That is at 2000 feet, we will maneuver the flight as per set DGCA norms.
Will that be the most challenging test?
No, no, no, no, no. The most challenging were high speed taxi on ground, take off, balance flight and landing and stopping before the runway ends was the most challenging which capabilities we have already successfully completed.
What is at stake for you now?
My dream of making airplanes in India, by an Indian, is at stake for me
In independent India, this is the first indigenously made, six-seater airplane, which is registered by the DGCA.
What will be your message for our readers?
I have set my goal to make regional connectivity in India a reality for which I am making airplanes.
I have my challenges, but I am confident of scaling my challenges. I am continuously, relentlessly, working towards achieving my goals.
So anybody who wants to be successful in life must set their goals and persevere relentlessly to achieve that.
If you want to contribute towards helping an Indian create aviation history, you can contact Captain Amol Shivaji Yadav at 9320032733.