IAF selected the Embraer Legacy Business Jet for VVIP and VIP transport after an elaborate process of evaluation of the platform against a number of contending aircraft of similar size and capability. It offered the best value for the money invested in the deal. Given the increased commitments of the squadron, at least four more such aircraft are needed to meet the requirements.
One of the inductions of transport aircraft into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the recent past, has been the Embraer Legacy Business Jets. Induction of this platform albeit in small numbers, indeed marked the beginning of the much-needed modernisation of the transport fleet of the IAF.
AIR HEADQUARTERS COMMUNICATION SQUADRON
The IAF is authorised to maintain a fleet of aircraft that consists of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing platforms to provide air transportation facilities to a range of important personalities of the nation as well as to those from other nations when on official visit to India. The first category of persons who are accorded the privilege of special flights on account of their high status are classified as Very Very Important Persons (VVIPs). The list of VVIPs includes the President of India, the Vice President of India, the Prime Minister of India and the Heads of foreign Governments when on formal visit to India. The second category of senior functionaries that is generally referred to as Very Important Persons (VIPs) are also privileged to avail of air travel by IAF aircraft. The list of these personalities includes those that occupy positions of reasonably high status as also other entitled personages (OEPs). On the list of OEPs are senior appointment holders such as the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Cabinet Secretary, other Ministers of the Central Government, Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence, Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Air Staff and Chief of the Naval Staff and the Secretary of Defence. Apart from the appointments listed above, senior service and civilian officers connected with Defence organisations in the country, are also privileged to avail of the facility of special flights provided by the Air Headquarters Communication Squadron of the IAF. Today, the squadron can proudly claim that it has flown every President, Vice President and Prime Minister of India and nearly every foreign dignitary who has set foot on the Indian soil. The list includes, from HO Chi Minh and Nikita Krushchev to Pope John Paul II and Kofi Annan. Equipped with modern aircraft, the Squadron continues to execute its responsibilities with the highest standards of professionalism.
Air Headquarters Communication Squadron of the IAF can proudly claim that it has flown every President, Vice President and Prime Minister of India and nearly every foreign dignitary who has set foot on the Indian soil
To cater to the needs of air transportation of the high profile clientele described above, the IAF was authorised to set up and maintain a special establishment called Air Headquarters Communication Squadron. This unit was set up on November 01, 1947 and to ensure easy access to the high profile clientele that is largely located in Delhi, the squadron has been based at Air Force Station, Palam, New Delhi, since its inception. The first lot of aircraft inducted by the Squadron consisted of nine Airspeed AS 10 Oxford which was a twin-engine (piston), essentially a trainer aircraft of British origin. Since then, the Squadron has come a long way and today it has on its inventory, three Boeing Business Jets (BBJ), a variant of the Boeing 737 airliner that was inducted in 2009, four Embraer Legacy Business Jets and six newly acquired Mi-17 V5 helicopters that were modified in India at No. 3 Base Repair Depot of the IAF for VIP use. This was done to cater for an emergency situation that arose after the project to procure ten AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters from Italy for VIP use ran aground on account of alleged scams. Without the recourse, the Air Headquarters Communication Squadron would have been left high and dry without a rotary wing fleet.
“It’s a good and reliable jet!”
—Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, Former Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force
“The serviceability has been excellent. All VIP travelling in them have been very happy.”
—Air Marshal S.B.P. Sinha, Former Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Indian Air Force
EMBRAER LEGACY BUSINESS JETS
Induction of the four Embraer Legacy Business Jets into the Air Headquarters Communication Squadron commenced on September 21, 2005 with three aircraft being handed over in the first lot. The fourth aircraft for the Squadron arrived a few months later along with one more ordered by the Government of India for use by the Border Security Force (BSF) which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Thus the fifth aircraft is on the inventory of the BSF and not that of the IAF. Unlike the four aircraft on the inventory of the IAF, the aircraft with BSF has a civilian registration VT-BSF and is flown by pilots holding civil license. The four Embraer Legacy Business Jets have been brought on to the inventory of the IAF and have been numbered and named as K3601 Meghdoot, K3602 Vayudoot, K3603 Nabhdoot and K3604 Gagandoot.
“The IAF experiences with the Embraer Legacy have been excellent. Both the service provided by Embraer for the aircraft and by Rolls-Royce for the Engine has been good”
—A Senior Retired Air Marshal, Indian Air Force
The fleet of four Embraer Legacy Business Jets was inducted into the IAF to replace the ageing fleet of Hawker Siddeley HS 748 Avro twin turboprop engine, medium lift transport aircraft of British origin. This aircraft was manufactured under licence by the Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at their facility in Kanpur in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The fleet of HS 748 Avro aircraft had been with the IAF since the early 1960s. The decision to select the Embraer Legacy Business Jets as replacement for the HS 748 Avro was finally taken after an elaborate process of evaluation of the platform against a number of contending aircraft of similar size and capability. One important factor that played a major role in the selection of the Embraer Legacy Business Jet was that it offered the best value for the money invested in the deal.
The Embraer Legacy Business Jet, designed, developed and manufactured by Brazilian aerospace major Embraer, is a business jet derivative of the highly reputed Embraer Regional Jet 135. A model of this aircraft was showcased as the Legacy 2000 for the first time at the air show in Farnborough in the year 2000. The aircraft took to the air for the first time in June 2000 and its entry into service commenced in February 2002. The Embraer Legacy Business Jet is a sophisticated platform with its interior configuration is state-of-the-art. The aircraft requires a take-off distance of 1,800 metres and it can land safely with a landing distance of 1,400 metres. With this feature, the aircraft has the capability to operate from most of the airfields in India as well as abroad. The aircraft has self-protection suites to guard against missile attacks.
The Embraer Legacy Business Jet is a sophisticated platform with the capability to operate from most of the airfields in India as well as abroad. The aircraft has self-protection suites to guard against missile attacks
The cockpit of the Embraer Legacy aircraft is endowed with modern features that include Flight Management System, Global Positioning System as well as other navigation systems giving it ‘Reduced Vertical Separation Minima’ and ‘CAT II Instrument Landing System (ILS)’ capabilities. The aircraft has a glass cockpit and auto flight systems that are in keeping with the modern trends of cockpit instrumentation. The characteristics of this aeroplane include a maximum takeoff weight of 22,570 kg and a maximum fuel capacity of 8,300 kg. While it can carry 10 passengers to a maximum range of 3,100 nautical miles its cabin volume of 40 cubic metres offers ample space for seating 14 passengers including four in the VIP cabin. The aircraft are in special executive class configuration and have a large cabin volume providing room for work and relaxation of VVIPs. With a cruising speed of 0.78 Mach, it is able to ferry its high profile passenger quickly and efficiently to the desired destinations.
ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER - EMBRAER
Founded in 1969, Embraer has its headquarters located in San Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo, the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate has and continues to produce a range of commercial, military, executive, training and agricultural aircraft as also provides aeronautical services worldwide. Today, Embraer is rated as the third largest producer of civil aircraft after the global aerospace majors Boeing of the United States of America and the European multinational aerospace corporation, Airbus. The primary competitor for Embraer in this class of aircraft is Bombardier of Canada with its own series of regional jets.
The primary role of employment of the Embraer Legacy Business Jets with Air Headquarters Communication Squadron is to fly VVIPs and VIPs to destinations within India and even abroad. The Squadron has been operating this fleet of Embraer Legacy aircraft with support from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and has been able to maintain a flawless as well as an incident free track record since the induction of the fleet.