'Saras', 14 seater passenger aircraft of the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), is being revived and the flight test will take place in the next one-and-half months, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.
While the 19 seater will be developed in the days to come, plans are also on to give thrust to a 70 seater plane, he said, adding permission had been given for carrying out flight testing and evaluation of Saras PT1N aircraft.
Flight testing would start shortly with the help of ASTE (Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment) team and engine ground tests have been initiated, the Union Science and Technology Minister said.
The data would be collected from the tests post which manufacturing would be done in one-and-half years, he told reporters at the Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka airbase here on the third day of Asia's premier air show.
"We have taken up the Saras programme quite aggressively. Saras is a 14-seaterplane.In fact in future we would want to convert into 19-seater also. New prototype has been developed with all modifications done after having the feedback," Vardhan said.
He said ground testing has already been done and in the next one-and-half months, official test flying would be done. Initially some 25 test flights have been planned, he said.
Vardhan also said the 14 seater is primarily for the Air Force, but the improved version of the 19 seater was also being planned for the civil aviation.
To a question on funding, NAL Director Jitendra J Jadhav said about Rs 400-500 crore was needed for the two prototypes of Saras.
On the new improved Saras, the Minister said the design will be officially finalised and approved by the end of this year and by next year end it should be flying.
Speaking on the five seater CNM-5 designed by NAL, Vardhan said fabrication has been done by Mahindra and it has already completed 12 flights.
"Mahindra, in collaboration with the laboratory, was doing it in Australia, but now Mahindra has agreed to bring it back to India. In the next couple of months we will go ahead and get the certification approved from the relevant authorities.
"We expect in another 18 months from now production of CNM-15 will start," he said, adding it would be like an airtaxi.
Vardhan said there was also a plan to give thrust to 70 seater plane. In the initial stage there were some difficulties, but now it is also being seriously considered.
"That process has also started. The new civil aviation policy there has been emphasising on regional connectivity. This new thrust that we want to build in the future will certainly help the whole concept," the Union Minister added.