Plans to revive three passenger aircraft projects

Eager to boost air connectivity through upgraded small airports, India has proposed to revive three passenger aircraft projects: the 14-seater Saras, a 70-seater regional transport aircraft (RTA-70) and the five-seater NM-5.

The big objective is this: To fly these locally made planes between small towns and metro cities using the airports that will be eventually upgraded under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).

At the Aero India 2017, Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan drew attention to the NM-5 passenger aircraft being developed jointly by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and Mahindra Aerospace. This will be certified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

In the next one-and-a-half months, NAL will begin the official flight tests of the Saras project. This 14-seater project was grounded following a crash in March 2009. 

After a committee probed the crash, Saras was reconfigured and equipment upgraded to boost coordination between the designers and pilots. Vardhan said the upgraded Saras’ ground tests have already begun. About 25 initial flights are planned. 

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