India's National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) flew its 14-seat Saras twin-pusher turboprop for the second time on 7 June from the company's Bangalore base, writes Kate Sarsfield. The aircraft had its maiden flight on 29 May (Flight International, 8-14 June). Work on the Saras, India's first civil transport aircraft, began in 1991 as a partnership between Bangalore-based NAL and Russia's Myasishchev Design Bureau.

The partnership dissolved in the mid-1990s when the Russian manufacturer failed to secure its share of the funding. The programme stalled again in 1998 when the USA imposed trade sanctions on India.

Two prototypes, powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66 turboprops, will be used in the 500h flight-test programme. A third prototype will be used for structural testing. NAL's initial specifications include seating for up to 12 passengers, maximum take-off weight of 6,100kg (13,450lb), cruise speed of 297kt (550km/h), and a maximum range of 1,795km (970nm).

Certification to US Part 25 standard is set for early 2007, NAL says, leading to first deliveries in the middle of that year.

The Saras is targeted at the executive, air taxi, commuter, cargo and emergency medical services markets, says NAL, and is designed to operate from short unpaved runways.


Source: Flight International