The Rise of Phoenix: Saras

4 weeks ago Shruti Goel 0

The Rise of Phoenix: Saras by Shruti Goel

Wednesday morning, four nearby residents witnessed the sounds and saw fighter jets taking off from the defense airstrip but it was very significant for National Aeronautical Laboratory. It was very special for them as it was the rise of their flagship programme. On 24th January, the first flight trial of the new version of indigenous civilian airplane took place without a second glance.

A decade ago, there was a tragic crash of 14-seater Saras. It stalled the progress of the indigenous civilian aircraft programme back then. Now they saw the first flight trial of PT1N (Prototype 1 New) which is the new version of the airplane. This success is special for the NAL.

National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL)

National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is a constituent of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It is the only government aerospace R&D laboratory in the country’s civilian sector and was established in 1959. CSIR-NAL keeps its main focus on advanced disciplines in aerospace and is a high-technology oriented institution. It has several advanced and nationally recognized test facilities. It supports the mission-mode programmes of the country. It has many contributions to the development of technologies for the strategic sector as well.

Touching heights

According to the know-how team, the trials went off successfully. The aircraft was accompanied by a defense escort and flew to the speeds of 140 knots, for about 40 minutes. It reached a height of 8,500 feet. Also in the coming time, required design and altitude alterations will be carried out to see the flight reach closer to its peak speed of 184 knots and a height of 30,000 feet.

Wing Commander U.P. Singh and Group Captain B. Panicker flew the aircraft on Wednesday morning. They were from among the four trained pilots from ASTE (Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment).

A Dream of 1990’s

Picture of Saras in 2004

An aircraft programme, named after the Indian crane Saras, was a new concept launched in the 1990’s. It was conceptualized in order to establish a short-haul civil aviation market.  NAL worked hard for decades in order to design it, and then carried out its first flight on May 29, 2004.

After this, they suffered a tragic crash on March 6, 2009. The Prototype 2 crashed at Bidadi on the outskirts, resulting in the demise of two wing commanders and a flight test engineer. Incorrect drill procedures were given to the pilots during a test where engines were to be switched off and then relit. The monetary sanctions of the project dried up by mid-2013 as a lasting impact of the accident. However, the project was restarted by the end of 2015. In 2017, NAL declared that CSIR has given a green signal and the tests of the flight would begin in 2018. It proved to be true by the starting of 2018 celebrated by the success of its first flight in the very first month of the year.

It has boosted the morale of NAL by seeing a long-pending project gathering pace. This short flight has a great significance for the defense public sector.

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