Marking a milestone in India’s first public-private partnership for aircraft development, the country’s CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories and Mahindra Aerospace have flown their jointly developed C-NM5 piston single for the first time.
Engineers from CSIR-NAL and Mahindra Aerospace spent close to three years designing the airplane before building the real thing over a 10-month period with help from a rapid-prototyping team at GippsAero, a Mahindra subsidiary with facilities near Melbourne, Australia.
The recent 45-minute first flight at GippsAero’s headquarters tested the airplane’s basic handling. Subsequent flights have evaluated aircraft stability and control in a variety of flight regimes.
The C-NM5 is a five-seat, all-metal aircraft powered by a Lycoming IO-540 engine. The cabin interior will be reconfigurable to adapt it to a variety of roles, form passenger carrying to cargo hauling. Its developers say simplicity of systems and ease of maintenance are design drivers throughout the aircraft, which they claim will boast the lowest operating cost of any comparable light piston single.
Designers are remaining tight-lipped about program details, including the airplane’s certification timetable or projected price, but the company has said the C-NM5 would sell for “20 percent less” than competing models from Cessna.