CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories that is developing a 19-seater indigenous light transport aircraft ‘Saras Mk2′ has plans for a 70-seater aircraft, Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said. “Today itself they have started talking to me to get the permissions from and meetings with civil aviation ministry for their future plan of the 70-seater. That is also very heartening to know,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. “Seventy-seater has always been in the long-term vision and since they have mentioned about this today we will have to bring the civil aviation ministry on board. We have to take the approval of the Prime Minister’s office. Also, we will have to take scientists also on board, so as a science and technology minister I will facilitate them to move in the right direction,” he said. The Minister was speaking to reporters after laying the foundation for NAL’s system check facility, aircraft integration facility, and the inauguration of smart aerospace composite manufacturing facility here. NAL director Dr Jitendra J Jadhav said since NAL has a fair amount of experience, it would start the design of 70-seater. He said, “First, we will have to get in-principle approval from Ministry of Science and Technology, and Civil Aviation, also from Ministry of Finance, then we can finish design phase one-and-a-half year from that, which will be the preliminary design phase. Then we will submit it to the government, once the government sanctions, we will develop.”
CSIR-NAL is currently engaged in the design, development and certification of Saras Mk2, a twin-engine turboprop 19-seater transport aircraft for connecting small cities. Dr Harsh Vardhan said everything was ready for the 19- seater, and the government has given all its support in terms of clearance and fund requirement to NAL. Expressing happiness that NAL was ready with a better advanced model and specification for the 19-seater, he said, “This 19-seater will be a boon for the people of the country, specially for improving and strengthening the regional travel or connectivity. Now we are in a stage that in the next few years, this 19-seater will be available for improving and strengthening the regional connectivity,” he added. NAL officials said they have completed basic testing for pre-production standard. Dr Jadhav said the first production of the 19-seater aircraft is likely by around 2025. “Four years for certification and after that one-and-a-half year for production,” he said. The officer said they were looking at civilian market of about 100 aircraft, adding that the Indian Air Force has committed to induct 15 such aircraft initially, and they may need another 45. He said the IAF version of Saras would be produced by HAL, and for civilian version also HAL may continue as production partner, but if demand is high, joint ventures may be worked out with private companies. The cost of the aircraft is likely to be at about Rs 45 crore and it was low compared to foreign aircraft may cost over Rs 70 crore. Regarding the two-seater Hansa-Next Generation aircraft, the production would start by 2022-23. “Basic will be around Rs 1 crore, deluxe will cost about Rs 1.25 crore. For Hansa, flying clubs from across the country are potential customers, he said, adding that there may be requirement of over 200 aircraft as flying clubs are increasing. NAL had last year inked a pact with Delhi-based Mesco Aerospace Ltd for the design, development, production and marketing of the Hansa-Next Generation aircraft.