Successful test flight for India’s indigenous Saras light aircraft


The Saras Mk2 aircraft test flight

The second test flight of the improved version of the Saras light aircraft has taken place in Bengaluru, India, with the Indian Air Force committing to the acquisition of 15.

The indigenously developed Saras Mk2 was flown for the second time on February 21, after a first flight on January 24.

The flight was commanded by Wing Commander UP Singh, Group Captain RV Panicker and Group Captain KP Bhat of Indian Air Force – Aircraft and System Testing Establishment (ASTE). The flight was the second of the 20 test flights planned for Saras PT1N. Testing is expected to be completed by July this year.

The design and development of the 19-seater aircraft is being done by India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and the Indian Air Force – ASTE.

India’s science and technology minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said, “The project was dumped by the previous government, after an accident during test flight in 2009. Though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had exonerated the aircraft from any design flaw or poor-quality production, no effort was made to revive the project.”

NAL has incorporated design modifications and improvements on the Saras, such as two 1200shp engines and 2.6m (104in) diameter propeller assembles, improved flight control system, rudder area, main wheel and brakes to cater to 7100 kg AUV, as well as a stall warning system.

According to Dr Vardhan the aircraft will be available initially for military use and then for civilian. The government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) will produce the military version, while the production of the civil version will be given to private companies.

The government expects up to 160 military and civil Saras Mk2s to be produced in the next 10 years. “SARAS Mk 2 will be ideal for a variety of applications like air taxi, aerial search/survey, executive transport, disaster management, border patrol, coast guard, ambulance and other community services,” said Dr Vardhan.

“Its successful development will be one of the game changers in the history of civil aviation in India.”

February 23, 2018

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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