Monday, February 07, 2011

SARAS, will not fly at this edition of Aero India

India’s first multi-purpose civilian aircraft designed by National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in the light transport aircraft category, SARAS, will not fly at this edition of Aero India.
Reason: the nod of the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) is still awaited and its protoype-III (SARAS-PT3) is more or less stuck in the hangars.
The SARAS-PT2 (prototype-II), which had a fatal crash barely a month after the previous edition of Aero India, had flown for four days at the show in 2009, without the DGCA’s permission.

 The crash, on March 6, 2009, had killed two Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots –– Wing Commander Praveen Kotekoppa and Wing Commander Dipesh Shah, along with Flight Test Engineer Squadron Leader Ilayaraja.
The SARAS aircraft had caught fire after the crash in an open field near Bidadi, about 30 km from Bangalore, and probes later found that wrong engine relight drills given to the pilots caused the crash.
With the SARAS-PT1 declared too heavy to fly and SARAS-PT2 crashing a couple of years ago, NAL has no aircraft from the family that can fly at Asia’s premier air show this time.
It is noteworthy that an inquiry into the crash had also revealed that: “there was no effective and continuous monitoring of the SARAS test programme by the management committee (MC) comprising representatives from NAL and IAF’s Aircraft and System Testing Establishment (ASTE).
This, the report said, “had happened despite a 2003 agreement between NAL and IAF to deliberate and decide on all major issues relating to flight test planning, sequencing and supervision of flight tests and safety aspects.”
NAL sources, however, told Deccan Herald: “The SARAS will not fly in this year’s Aero Show as we are planning to upgrade it with a high-power engine, which could not be completed in time.”
Letting all this go by, NAL, sources said, will still focus on the civil aviation part in the show, which has been introduced for the first time since its inception.
NAL’s stall in Hall-B, will, in fact, be on the theme: “Civil Aircraft Design and Development,” which sources said is the mandate given to the organisation. The main draw is expected to be India’s ambitious national civil aircraft (NCA) and NAM-5.
While NCA is India’s attempt to make an homegrown civil transport aircraft under a public-private-partnership (PPP), to develop which the Centre has set up a high level committee headed by former ISRO Chairman Madhavan Nair, NAM-5 is being developed in association with Mahindra and Mahindra.

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