Second prototype of Saras to take flight shortly

Bangalore: Indian state-owned National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have said that they will continue to develop the 12-passenger twin-turboprop aircraft called the Saras, named after a graceful Indian crane.

The first prototype, which made its flying debut at Aero India 2005, has already logged 95 flight hours through 40 test flights. According to NAL director Dr. A.R. Upadhya, teething problems discovered in the initial phase of flight-testing have been resolved.

Upadhya also said that the second prototype is expected to fly within a month. Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67s will power the prototype, which develops 1,250 shp in place of the PT6A-66s that are flat-rated at 850 shp.

HAL plans to fly the third Saras prototype at the end of next year. This prototype will boast of all-composite wings, empennage and bulkheads. Indian certification is expected in 2009.