SARAS undergoing pre-flying tests

CHENNAI DEC. 4. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-designed, 14-seater light transportation aircraft, SARAS, is undergoing pre-flying tests and is expected to be fit for commercial flying by February 2004.

The SARAS, a project initiated by the National Aerospace Laboratory, is totally Indian-designed and aimed at having jet-like performance.

"The HAL has designed the wings and the landing gear. The design stage is almost over and the prototype has been rolled out." The transportation aircraft is awaiting civil certification, said C.G. Krishnadas Nair, president of the Society for Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries and chairman of the Society of Defense Technologists, Bangalore. He was inaugurating a two-day symposium on the "current status and future prospects in aerospace sciences and aviation" being held at the IIT, Madras, today. Mr. Nair suggested to the Centre that it set up a national commission, which has been recommended in a draft policy prepared by the Aeronautical Society of India for organisational management of growth in aeronautics.

Later, in an informal talk with reporters, Mr. Nair said the Indian Air Force had placed orders for two-seater, Intermediate Jet Trainer aircraft manufactured by the HAL. This would replace the existing fleet of Kiran trainer jets. "India required about 300 IJTs." G. Subramanian, senior dean (Administration), IIT, Madras; E.G. Tulapurkara, chairman organising committee, IIT, Madras; and S.K. Saraswati, chairman, Southern Regional Executive Director, National Airports Division of the Airports Authority of India, and chairman of the AeSI, Chennai branch, spoke on the emerging trends in airport design, air navigation and communication systems.

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