Two years after South Africa’s Denel launched the SARA (small African regional airliner) project at the Africa Aerospace and Defense show at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria, the company last week showed off its full-scale fuselage mockup for the first time at the 2016 edition of AAD.
SARA is a concept for a pressurized airliner that can operate on point-to-point services between small, semi-prepared runways. The aircraft’s design, with maximum diameter placed forward, employs laminar flow technology for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The flattened oval-shaped cabin cross-section maximizes internal space and provides four-abreast seating with standing room in the central aisle.
Funded by Denel and other industrial and government stakeholders, a recent study conducted by Lufthansa Consulting concluded that SARA would offer best-in-class performance and capacity, as well as the lowest seat-mile costs. It also suggested that the program could sustain around 2,000 jobs in the aerospace sector, an important consideration given its status as the basis for a South African national aerospace flagship program to regenerate the aerospace industry through the development of a new generation of technicians and engineers.
Denel intends the mockup to provide a vehicle for two phases of studies that will influence the final design of the SARA. Following an initial phase in which engineers study elements such as cockpit and cabin ergonomics, environmental control systems and emergency systems, a second phase will focus on the versatility of the cabin space, include 12-, 20- and 24-seat layouts, passenger/cargo combi arrangements and toilet/galley/cabin crew jump seat options.