India Seeks Russia’s Help for Home Made Saras Aircraft

By admin • June 1st, 2010

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India Defence Online, New Delhi – After the hiatus of one year, the state-owned National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) will be aided by Russian experts to rectify and make design changes in India’s first indigenous aircraft called ‘Saras’.

Due to a fatal crash in March 2009, the development of the ‘Saras’ aircraft was stalled but Russian expertise is expected to bring the ‘Saras’ project to its fruition.

A pact was signed between India and Russia recently and an expert team from the Russian Government-run civil aircraft maker Myasishchev Design Bureau (MDB) is at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) to assist Indian designers on the ‘Saras’ project.

Interestingly, it was MDB of Russia that first built and flew the small turboprop aircraft ‘Saras’ in the 1990s, but lack of funds forced MDB to abandon it despite its tie-up with NAL.

India’s premier research laboratory under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has been holding talks with MDB since last year and has finally convinced a Russian team to India to assess the ‘Saras’ project again.

According to NAL officials, Russian experts will help speed up flight development and certification and will advise NAL on flight testing as well as on design issues like flight controls. Since the fatal crash in 2009, NAL has sought an additional $10 million build a new aircraft.

NAL had built two prototypes of the 14-seater ‘Saras’ aircraft. Despite that accident and the loss of one of the aircraft and three people, India’s home-grown multi-role “Saras” aircraft will still be acquired by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy. The price tag of each ‘Saras’ aircraft was $8 million then.

In July 2009, NAL officials indicated that the second prototype of the 14-seater Saras aircraft had been fitted with a high performance engine and its weight had been considerably reduced. The weight had been reduced after fine-tuning the aircraft’s structural design, more use of composites and optimisation of margins and electrical fittings. The reduction in the weight of the second prototype by over 500 kilograms from the first prototype of 5118 kilograms was also matched with a high thrust engine from Pratt and Whitney.

While no reasons were cited last year for the ‘Saras’ aircraft crash, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has investigated the crash and found fault with the management of the project and design issues such as unstable flight control laws. The DGCA recommended that NAL consult other aircraft makers for flight trials.

source: india defence online

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