Special Correspondent

Bangalore: The Indian Air Force has shown keen interest in Saras, the country's first civilian aircraft designed and developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories here.

NAL director A.R. Upadhya told presspersons on the sidelines of the seminar on aluminium in aerospace on Friday that the second prototype of the 14-seater aircraft was ready. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. will manufacture the aircraft.

"The IAF has shown interest after seeing the performance of Saras, and NAL is having discussions with HAL on production details. By October a clear picture would emerge," Mr. Upadhya said.

The second prototype has been fitted with a high performance engine and its weight has been considerably reduced, he said.

The weight reduction target had been 450 to 500 kg compared to the first prototype. The reduction in weight was reached after fine-tuning the aircraft's structural design, more use of composites and optimisation of margins and electrical fittings.