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India to develop more small aircraft

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Saras aircraft. NAL image

NEW DELHI (BNS): The Indian government has granted more money for the small civil aircraft design project. The cabinet committee on economic affairs on Thursday cleared the proposal of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to pump in more funds in the project.

India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is developing new small planes. It will now get Rs 172.80 crore up from Rs 96 crore. NAL has already produced a two-seater Hansa aircraft and a 14-seater light aircraft SARAS. The two models are still in the development stage but have undergone flight trials.

With the fresh funding, NAL will develop a 4-seater variant of Hansa and would also get it certified for flight worthiness. The aircraft is expected to be used for training, personnel transportation, carrying light packages and as low-end air taxi operations.

The entire project cleared approved by the government would have four modules, the first being the development of four-seater Hansa. The second module is on civil aircraft related research and civil aviation policy research and market analysis, according to a statement issued by the government.

The indigenous development of certain critical equipment both to increase the indigenous content of Saras and also to guard against sudden embargoes is the part of the third module

The fourth module is addressing the weight optimisation, power optimisation and other improvements required on Saras so that it can be made an operational aircraft with full payload and the required range.

With the implementation of this proposal, NAL/CSIR seeks to augment its premier position in civil aviation R&D, the statement said.

Saras has been one of the important projects undertaken by NAL and it has drawn flak in the past for not sticking to the deadline. Saras has taken too long to come out of the stable. The aircraft still has a lot of deficiencies despite undergoing several flight tests. The twin engine turbo prop is still awaiting flight worthiness certification.

The aircraft is meant for short haul destinations. But officials were still skeptical if it would be ready to be marketed in the near future. There are several aspects which need to be settled.

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