Good Bye NAL Saras
It's time to say good bye to the indigenous effort of building the light transport plane, The ministry stopped funding and asked the National Aeronautics Limited to relieve the Saras program. The government allotted nearly 300 crores to build the indigenous light transporter, which can carry three crew and fourteen passengers. two prototypes were built, one was crashed other remain grounded.
The Saras project initiated after serious discussions from government leaders as well as military leaders, In early 1990, there is a requirement of more than 300 light weight transporter for both civilian and military purpose. Government asked the Russian to support the Saras program early 1991, Due to finical troubles Russians withdrew from the projects early stage.
Serious troubles founds in the program once the Russians withdrew from the project, NAL and the adviser CSIR- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research drafted plans to build the aircraft with own technology and idea with small support from foreign technicians and assistance from ex aviation experts.
NAL almost laid the aircraft structure and looks for proper engine, The Aviation experts advised to use the turbo prop engines, for feasible study and further evaluation in the light weight program, NAL selected the Canadian Engine to power the Saras. The Pratt & Whitney PT 6A five blade turboprop engines which delivers 895 kW is selected.
Saras fitted with improved version of PT 6 A engines, NAL almost completed the Saras construction, and awaits final order for flight testing, However due to the Indian Nuclear test and American sanctions, Canadians stopped supporting further on the Saras project, Indian engineers still working on with their own idea to fly the Saras.
The government realized the need of indigenous systems, So they provide additional funds to speed up the project and asked the NAL to fly the Saras by 2001, However the NAL couldn't able to complete the task, NAL flown the first indigenously made Saras by May 2004.
The Engineers found many problems in the air craft, which include over weight issue, and some other technical glitches, NAL continuously working on the Saras to mature the platform, So they plan for another prototype to evaluate the performance. The second prototype flown in later 2009. Then the tragedy starts.
On flying the second Saras prototype, Shortly after take off the aircraft went down, by killing two air force test pilots and one flight engineer. The issues were found in the engine and the over altitude flying brings the aircraft down, investigation reports suggested.
After the crash the government didn't concentrated on the program, also didn't allocated more funds to evaluate the Saras. The first prototype also grounded for lack of support and spares. The Saras program engineers keep analyzing the Saras on the ground, with hope of rebirth. However Government announced in 2013, they will stop funding the Saras project, which is a first step to close the Saras Program.
Further in early 2016, Government formally closed the Saras project and asks the engineers to move on with other strategic projects runs by NAL and HAL. with the 300 crores of money, lives of three officers one prototype with huge man power the program ends officially.