India To Buy Indigenous Saras Aircraft Despite Crash

March 10, 2009, NEW Delhi -- Indian defense forces will purchase the indigenous Saras multirole aircraft despite its March 6 accident, Indian Defence Ministry officials said. The Air Force and Navy continue to evince interest in the aircraft, officials here said.

A senior Air Force official, however, said the Saras is expensive at about $8 million per aircraft.

A prototype of the Saras being developed by the Bangalore-based, state-owned National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) crashed March 6 near Bangalore, killing three Air Force pilots.

The second prototype of the 14-seater Saras has been fitted with a high-performance engine, and its weight had been considerably reduced, a NAL scientist said, by fine-tuning the design, making more use of composites and improving electrical fittings.

No official reason has been given for the crash.

The 500-kilogram weight reduction from the first prototype, which weighed 5,118 kilograms, was matched with a high-thrust engine from Pratt and Whitney, the scientist said. (defensenews)

India test flies 14-seater Saras aircraft
May 29, 2004, Bangalore -- A test flight of India's first indigenously built civilian aircraft, SARAS was carried out in Bangalore on Saturday.

Saras, a twin turbo prop 14-seater, built by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), had been undergoing final tests at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Saras, which will be powered by Pratt and Whitney engines, is designed for executive transport, cargo carrying, remote sensing, Coast Guard and air ambulance usage.

The 1.5 billion rupee project Saras, named after the Indian crane, began in 1991 but it hit air pockets due to the denial of critical components following US sanctions imposed after the nuclear tests in 1998.

NAL revived the project in 2000 after government's additional capital infusion of 2 billion rupees into the project. The Indian Air Force has hinted at buying Saras instead of a foreign-built aircraft. Saras is likely to be deployed at the training base in Bangalore's Yelahanka airbase to train rookie pilots, who are now flying Dornier aircraft. (asiatribune)

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