First flight trial of the new version of the indigenous civilian airplane proves successful , took off from the HAL Airport , touches 8,500 feet Those in the know-how said the first of the over six “design confidence building” trials went off successfully. For 40 minutes, the aircraft, accompanied by a defence escort, flew to speeds of 140 knots and reached a height of 8,500 feet. “In the coming weeks, subsequent design and altitude alterations can see the flight reach closer to its top speed of 184 knots and 30,000 feet in height,” . Conceptualised in 1990s while four pilots from ASTE (Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment) have been trained for the trials, two of them (Wing Commander U.P. Singh and Group Captain B. Panicker) flew the aircraft The aircraft programme, named after the Indian crane Saras, was first conceptualised in the 1990s as a way to establish a short-haul civil aviation market. It was only in 2015-end that the project restarted, and by Aero-India 2017 in Bengaluru, NAL announced that CSIR had given the go-ahead and flight tests would begin in 2018. “It is a big morale booster for NAL to see a long-pending project gather steam,” said an official, when asked about what the short-flight means to the defence public sector unit.