The ambitious Saras project to manufacture small passenger aircraft, which was in cold storage, has been revived and in the next three years its commercial use will start under the UDAN scheme, Union minister Harsh Vardhan said today.
Commercial modification and implementation process were underway, he told reporters after inaugurating the UAV design and integration facility at the National Aeronautics Limited here, he said.
"The project was stopped after a tragedy but now it has been revived and test flights are in progress..," he said.
"In the next three years, the 19-seater aircraft will be utilised for commercial purpose," Vardhan said.
The vehicle would be useful for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's project UDAN for revival of many defunct aerodromes including those commissioned by the British during colonial era, he said.
On March 6, 2009, the indigenous light transport aircraft's Prototype 2 crashed at Bidadi on the city outskirts killing two wing commanders and a squadron leader.
"Saras and the revival of aerodromes will give impetus to regional connectivity and fulfil prime minister's dream of common man flying in aeroplanes," the minister added.
Vardhan, who visited various facilities at NAL here, said India was among the 3 to 4 countries where carbon fibre composite airframe components are being manufactured.
The project was started many years ago but due to technical reasons it was stalled sometime back. However, the team under Dr Jitendra J Jadhav has revived it again, he said.
The carbon fibre has use in multiple places, Vardhan said, adding that besides DRDO and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI), a PSU under the defence ministry, is in the process of setting up a 300 'TPA' manufacturing unit for carbon fibre with the technology devised by NAL.
"Private sector too is keen on this project (of carbon fibre). I have been told that Reliance has shown interest,"Vardhan said.
The UAV design and integration facility the minister inaugurated today satisfies the requirements of various users, both from the strategic and civil sectors, NAL officials said.
These include autopilot, control loss, ground control station software, vision processing algorithms and processes for small manufacturing light weight composite structures.
A specialised wind tunnel facility to study low 'Reynolds Number' effects has also been established,they said.
The minister said these facilities would help in surveillance, mapping, search and rescue operations too.
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