Home-spun Saras to train Air Force's trainee pilots

NAL develops five-seater flying clinic for emergency medicare

The IAF has signed up with National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore for the purchase of 15 Saras aircraft.

“NAL signed a memorand­um of understanding with IAF to sell 15 Saras aircraft. The Kanpur unit of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will manufacture these planes,” Shyam Chetty, acting director of NAL, told Deccan Herald here.

The 14-seater twin-engine ai­rcraft would be used for coastal surveillance as well as tr­aining young cadets on transport flying.

The indigenous aircraft fa­ced a major setback on March 6, 2009 when it crashed near Bangalore killing two test pilots and a flight engineer. The crash occurred when one of the engines was relighted. The first re-ignition failed and pilots went for the second re-ignition even though they did not have adequate height for the drill.

“We learnt from the failures and improved the design,” said Samir K Brahmachari, director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, parent outfit of  NAL.

The scientists have approached the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification and Director General of Air Quality Assurance under the Defence Ministry for certification as per US Federal Aviation Administration-23 standards. The certification process would take 18 months.

The second improved prototype of Saras would be ready in the third quarter of 2012 and the first production specification aircraft (PSA-1) would be ready by 2014 end.

NAL, in collaboration with Mahindra Aerospace, has also designed and produced a five-se­ater single engine aircraft that made its debut flight on September 1 in Melbourne.
The plane will be manufactured by an Australian company, which Mahindra acquired recently.

In-flight medicare

Christened CNM-5, the plane could be used for medical evacuation and ferrying critically ill passengers to hospitals as it has space to accommodate two stretchers and life support systems. Without the medical equipment, CNM-5 will have five seats and could be an effective transporter for the North East and the islands.

According to the market analysis of the company, India market has an annual demand for 30 such planes, each costing about Rs two crore, Brahmachari said. The turbo-prop plane that flies at an altitude between 10,000 to 15,000 ft in the visual range, had flown four hours in the last two weeks.

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