EXCLUSIVE

Saras Headed For Project Cancellation?

By SP's Special Correspondent January 11, 2016 Photo(s): By DPR Defence

Six years after a fatal crash of the second prototype aircraft, the Saras light civil aircraft programme could be headed for closure if sources are to be believed. After several stops and starts, it is likely that the prototypes may still fly, though the future of the project is almost definitely sealed. After a six-year grounding following a devastating March 2009 crash that killed its three-man IAF test crew, the National Aerospace Laboratory, in coordination with the IAF's Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) have failed to muster enough confidence to put the aircraft back in the air. As reported earlier by SP's, the ASTE had begun ground trials of the modified PT1N platform around December last 2013, and has undergone a rigorous routine of ground handling, turning and taxi trials, including static systems trials. Former NAL chief and aerospace guru Prof. Roddam Narasimha recently spoke out about the various programmes, and said that the proposed the Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) could spearhead a much needed new wave in Indian capabilities alongside the Saras. "It should be a turbo-prop aircraft, executed in a public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode, preferably as part of a global consortium, and should be viewed as a common “civil-military” platform that would also address the transport aircraft needs of the Indian Air Force in terms of the Avro and AN-32 replacements, thus generating the numbers and associated economic viability needed to make it successful," he said. The Saras technologies, however, could be infused into other programmes including the regional transport aircraft and national civil aircraft.