17:03 GMT +323 September 2019
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    India's Indigenous Multi-Purpose Aircraft SARAS Almost Ready for Mass Production

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    SARAS will be 30 to 35 percent cheaper than any imported aircraft in the same category and it will be a 19-seat aircraft instead of 14-seat. While the State-owned HAL has been identified as the production agency for the military version of Saras, production of the civilian version will be given to the private sector.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): India is looking to begin mass production of the indigenously developed multi-purpose light transport aircraft SARAS by the second half of this year. The aircraft was successfully test flown for the second time on Wednesday. This was the second of 20 test flights planned for the SARAS PT1N, before freezing the production version.

    "The unit cost of the aircraft, with more than 70 percent indigenous content, will be around INR 40-45 crore ($6.25-7 million) as against INR 60-70 crore ($9.3-11 million) for imported ones and has far more benefits than what the imported aircraft offer," Harsh Vardhan, India's Minister for Science & Technology said.

    The project was initially conceived in the 1990s as a joint project between India and Russia. However, India's National Aeronautics Ltd (NAL) decided to go solo with the 14-seater civil aircraft program when the Myasischev Design Bureau, the Russian state agency for civilian planes, backed out due to a financial crisis.

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    The project was dumped by the previous government, after an accident during a test flight in 2009. It was revived more than five years later by the Narendra Modi government. The aircraft has since undergone several design modifications and improvements, like 2x1200 hp engines and 104-inch diameter propeller, assembles to cater to the second segment climb gradient requirements, improved flight control system, rudder area, and indigenously developed stall warning system, etc. India needs 120-160 aircraft of this genre — both civilian and military versions — in the next 10 years.

      #SARAS-MK2 will be the first indigenous light transport aircraft. It will be a 19-seater and production model design is expected to be frozen by July this year after evaluation of system performance in about 20 flights. @PMOIndia, @CSIR_IND, @MinScTechGoI pic.twitter.com/uDF4NxIswl

    ​"Its successful development will be one of the game changers in the history of civil aviation in India," Minister Harsh Vardhan said. 

    At present, India is dependent on imported aircraft based on 1970's technology, such as Beechcraft 19000D, Dornier-228 and Embraer EMB 110. After India began its light transport aircraft project, countries like Russia, China, USA, Indonesia, and Poland have launched new programs for development of next generation 19-seater aircraft.

    The NAL claims that the upgraded SARAS Mk2 version (19 seaters) will be at least 500 kilograms lighter than the current version which weighs around 7100 kilograms. It will have unique features, like high cruise speed, lower fuel consumption, short landing and take-off distances, low cabin noise, operable from high-altitude and hot airfields, with a pressurized cabin, operable from semi-prepared airfield and low acquisition and maintenance cost.


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