India’s Turboprop Twin Progressing Slowly
Indian state-owned National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) continue working on a 12-passenger twin-turboprop pusher called the Saras, named after the graceful Indian crane. The first prototype, which made its flying debut at Aero India 2005, has logged 95 flight hours in 40 test flights. Teething problems discovered in the initial phase of flight-testing have been solved, NAL director Dr. A.R. Upadhya told AIN. Upadhya said prototype two is expected to fly within the next 30 days, powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67s developing 1,250 shp in place of PT6A-66s flat-rated at 850 shp. At the end of next year, HAL plans to fly a third Saras, prototype three, with all-composite wings, empennage and bulkheads. Indian certification is expected in 2009, two years behind the original schedule.