Lack of experience and even expertise in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to undertake the task of certifying an indigenous civil aircraft development programme is forcing the Air Force to turn to the country’s military aircraft regulatory body for certification of the Saras light transport aircraft.

The Air Force, which has ordered 15 of the 14-seater Saras, wants the Centre for Military Airworthiness (CEMILAC), to do the certification.

Confirming the move, officials of the CEMILAC, Air Force and the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) (a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research laboratory) that is spearheading Saras’ development, said they were working to “get convergence between the certification work already done by the DGCA and the developmental work that will be done by CEMILAC.”

The long-delayed Rs. 200-crore Saras programme suffered a serious setback in March last, when one of the programme’s prototype’s (PT2) crashed during a test flight, killing two Air Force test pilots and a flight test engineer. It has, since its conception, been under the DGCA certification since it was initially seen as a civil transport aircraft. But with the Air Force inking an order, the feeling in the Air Force is that it would be better for the programme to come under the CEMILAC.

A senior NAL official, however, said it could be difficult to switch regulatory processes suddenly.


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