India's Saras Transport Aircraft To Take First Flight In June

  • Our Bureau
  • 12:21 PM, May 11, 2017
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India's Saras Transport Aircraft To Take First Flight In June
14-seater Saras aircraft, developed by National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL)

India’s modified and reengined version of 14-seater Saras aircraft, developed by National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), is readying for its first flight in first week of June.

Bengaluru-based NAL has handed over the aircraft to Indian Air Force's (IAF) Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) for test flights after having received push from the government under regional connectivity policy, Times of India reported. 

Initially being a civil aircraft, NAL has been pushing Saras for military certification in the past two years, to sell it to the Indian Air Force (IAF). 

Saras will now boast of multi-role capabilities like feeder line aircraft, air ambulance, executive aircraft, troop transport, reconnaissance, aerial survey and light cargo transport.

The original design included a maximum takeoff weight of 6,100kg and a maximum payload of 1,232kg. The first prototype which completed its maiden flight on May 29, 2004, was overweight at 5,118kg compared to the 4,125kg design specifications.

Even as modifications to make the aircraft airworthy were taken up, again the crash tthat took on June 6, 2009 forced the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to ground the aircraft.

The prototype crashed after catching fire in Sheshagiri Halli, near Bidadi, about 30km from Bengaluru. It claimed the lives of three ASTE pilots.

NAL Director Jitendra J Jadhav said Monday, "The engine tests have already begun. The low-speed taxi and high-speed taxi trials are expected to be completed by the end of this month. After that, the ASTE will do the first flight most probably in the first week of June, Jadhay added.

The completion of the ground tests is followed by a flight; however, "We will need to get the go-ahead from the safety review board and the first flight review board." Jadhay said.

According to NAL, manufacturing of two Limited Series Prototypes of Saras will require Rs 400 crore to Rs 500 crore. "The final product will be taken care of by the IAF, but we will need this amount for the prototypes," Jadhav said.

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