Bengaluru: India’s indigenous light transport aircraft Saras was on Wednesday successfully test flown for a second time in Bengaluru, Union Science and Technology minister Harsh Vardhan said.
The production model design is expected to be ready by June-July this year, he said. The test flight, commanded by Wing Commander U P Singh, Group Captain R V Panicker and Group Captain K P Bhat of the Indian Air Force (Aircraft and System Testing Establishment), lasted 25 minutes, Mr Vardhan said.
The flight took off from the HAL’s airport in Bengaluru. “This was the second of the 20 test flights planned for Saras PT1N, before freezing the production version…,” he told reporters.
The first successful test was carried out on January 24 this year. The design and development of the aircraft is being done by the CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories, he said.
The Indian Air Force has committed to induct 15 such aircraft initially, Mr Vardhan said. CSIR-NAL proposes to get the SARAS-Mk 2 version certified initially for military and subsequently for civil version, he said.
Saras will be 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than any imported aircraft in the same category and it will be a 19-seater aircraft instead of 14-seater, Mr Vardhan said. “The unit cost of the aircraft, with more than 70 per cent indigenous content, will be around Rs. 40 to Rs. 45 crore as against Rs. 60 to Rs. 70 crore for imported ones and has far more benefits than what the imported aircraft offers,” he said.
The HAL has been identified as the production agency for the military version of Saras, while production of the civil version will be given to identified private industries.
SARAS Mk 2 will be ideal for commuter connectivity under the Centre’s UDAAN Scheme for variety of applications like air taxi, aerial search and survey, executive transport, disaster management, border patrol, coast guard, ambulance and other community services, Mr Vardhan said.