How the NAL Saras Mk2 aircraft will be a game-changer | Analysis

The first-ever indigenous light passenger aircraft Saras is all set to soar the skies, and will prove to be a game-changer in domestic civil aviation. With the fillip to domestic manufacturing by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, the 19-seater Saras Mk2 project led by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is slated to be one of the biggest achievements under the Make In India mission.

In just four more years, Saras Mk2 will obtain final certification. Their induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF) will begin from 2024. It is encouraging that the IAF has already committed to the induction of 15 such aircraft for various applications such as troop movement, VIP transport and supply roles during emergency situations. The in-house design and manufacturing of Saras Mk 2 are now attracting global attention. The reasons are the low acquisition and operating costs, high aircraft performance abilities and the latest generation technologies compared to any contemporary aircraft such as Dornier Do 228NG (Germany), N219 (Indonesia), Beechcraft 1900D (US), LET 410 NG (Czech Republic) and Harbin Y12F (China).


The first look at the upcoming Saras Mk2 aircraft marks a tectonic shift from its previous design and marks a move from rarely used pusher configuration of its propeller position to the tractor configuration. Earlier the engines were mounted on stub wings located at the aft fuselage but now the new design features a high mounted wings design with two turboprop engines in a wing-mounted pod.

Saras will not have a turbofan powered aircraft. For short commuters like the Saras, you want quick and efficient climb and decent because the majority of the time is spent there. Therefore, turboprops are actually more efficient.

Saras Mk2 as the feeder project for the design and development of the 70-90 seat aircraft for regional passenger connectivity. The design studies of the next generation 70-90-seater regional transport aircraft are on, and the proposal is under examination by the ministry of civil aviation. The Saras MK 2 project will, therefore, be a unique example of co-development, co-production under the Make in India initiative.


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