The Saras, the indigenous transport aircraft developed by NAL, may take to the skies again in March, next year. It has not taken to the skies since the crash of the prototype PT-2 in 2009.
It had faced a major setback on March 6, 2009 when it crashed near Bangalore killing two test pilots and a flight engineer.
The aircraft crashed when one of the engines was failed to re-ignite. The first re-ignition failed and pilots went for the second re-ignition though they did not have adequate height for the drill.“The ground testing of the aircraft will be done in mid-2012,” said Air Commandant B R Krishna, Commandant, Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE). ASTE, which also has a test pilot training division, and is one of only eight institutions in the world for training test pilots.
The indigenous Saras aircraft, whose track record was blemished by a 2009 crash that killing three IAF personnel, will now be used to train rookie IAF pilots to fly cargo aircraft. The IAF had signed up with the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, for the purchase of 15 Saras aircraft. NAL had signed a memorandum of understanding with IAF to sell 15 Saras aircraft.
The Kanpur unit of the HAL is expected to manufacture these aircraft.
The 14-seater twin-engine aircraft would be used for coastal surveillance and training young cadets on flying transport aircraft. Meanwhile, the ASTE is in the process of conducting user-evaluation trials of the LCA. The LCA had earlier received the initial operational clearance or IOC. Now it’s in the process of getting the IOC1 and in another year it could get the FOC or the Final Operational Clearance.
Also, even in the case of the RTA or the Regional Transport Aircraft being developed by India, it’s the ASTE which will be doing the tests though the project will have private participation.