Man in UK builds plane for family at less than the price of a Toyota SUV in Singapore, Latest World News - The New Paper

Man in UK builds plane for family at less than the price of a Toyota SUV in Singapore

This article is more than 12 months old

An Indian engineer in the UK, stuck at home during the Covid-19 lockdowns, began building a plane.

Mr Ashok Thamarakshan said he built the four-seater Sling TSI almost entirely by himself, using a kit from the South African company that makes it.

It reportedly cost him about 140,000 euros, which is less than S$200,000, not much more than the price of most cars sold in Singapore now, and about the same as the price of the Tesla Model Y featured in The Straits Times on Saturday (Aug 6).

When the project got too big for his house, Mr Thamarakshan moved it to a hangar.

The plane was finished late last year, certified this year, and in use by May, when Mr Thamarakshan, his wife and their two daughters left to fly around Europe, Indian media reports said.

Mr Thamarakshan, an automotive engineer by training, works for Ford.

He went to the UK as a student in 2006, from Alappuzha in the Indian state of Kerala, where his father has been a politician and legislator.

In the UK, Mr Thamarakshan learnt to fly, and got a pilot’s licence in 2019.

Initially, he used to hire a two-seater plane. But he needed something bigger to take his family with him.

It was not easy to find a suitable aircraft, and hiring was often too expensive. Buying a new plane would have cost him about four times the amount he spent, he was quoted as saying.

So he decided to get the kit and build it himself. He also looked around for the best deals and bought the engine in Austria and the avionics in the US.

The money he spent on it would not be enough to buy a hybrid RAV4, one of top car maker Toyota’s most popular models, in Singapore. The SUV’s price tag on the company’s website here is around $210,000.

But Mr Thamarakshan bought his Sling TSI kit more than two years ago, and the total cost now may be closer to that of some luxury cars in Singapore.

The Johannesburg-based company is one of several offering home assembly kits to build small single-engine planes. They usually require some expertise, the right tools, a fair amount of space and hundreds of man hours to put together. There are several models for roughly the same cost.

And that's how cheap a private plane can be, or if you look at it another way, how expensive a car in Singapore can be.