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Saras at Aero India 2007.

Saras is the first Indian multi-purpose civilian aircraft in the Light Transport Aircraft category designed by the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) with cooperation from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Saras is named after the Indian Saras Crane.

The total cost of the project was Rs 139 crores (Rs 1,390,000,000, about US $30 million). The project took off in 1991 as a collaboration (Myasishchev had a similar project called the Duet) with Russia, but financial trouble lead the Russians to drop out early in the program. The project almost came to a halt when it was hit by US-imposed sanctions in 1998 after India's nuclear tests in Pokhran.

Saras uses a pusher propeller configuration. Only a few aircraft currently use this configuration.

Saras (PT-1) completed its maiden flight at the HAL airport in Bangalore on May 29 2004, the flight duration was around 20 minutes during which the prototype flew up to altitudes of 2000 m. The prototype was overweight by around 900 kg, which may lead to reduction in payload expected to be carried.

The initial design specific range is a high 2.5 km/kg of fuel and the operation cost is a low (Indian Rupee)Rs.5/km witha range of
400 km with 18 passengers
1,200 km with 14 passengers
2,000 km with 8 passengers

As against the design value for the empty aircraft of 4,125 kg, it currently weighs 5,118 kg, a near 25 per cent increase in weight, which will affect its range, fuel carrying capacity and fuel economy, and, most important, its design payload capacity of 1,232 kg.

The all-up production weight has now been placed between 6,900-7,100 kg as against the original 6,100 kg. Consequently, the originally chosen 850 hp PT6A-66 Pratt and Whitney engine is sought to be replaced by a 1,200 hp engine of the same PT6A family. The second prototype (PT-2) will be built around the new engine.

As a result the payload-range characteristics have already been scaled down
400 km for 14 passengers
800 km for 12 passengers
1,400 km for 8 passengers
2,000 km ferry range with only crew.

According to NAL, besides providing a higher lift, the new engine will also meet the more stringent FAR-25 climb gradient requirements under conditions of one engine failure. Apparently, the basic structure and the landing gear have enough margins to handle this increased all-up weight.

Future Development

The initial certification plan will include the two prototypes (second expected to fly in 2005) to be flown by the Airborne Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) for a total period of 500 hours before certification from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The aircraft was on flying display at the 2005 Aero India airshow.

As of 28 April 2006, the Saras had made 50 test flights. Saras completed 100th test flight during aeroindia 2007.

An extended version of Saras is planned. Commercial production of the aircraft is expected by 2008.


Maximum Altitude7500 m
Maximum Speed550 km/h
EnduranceSix hours
Maximum Range400 km
Passenger Seats14
Length and Height15 m and 5 m respectively (approx.)
Wing-span15 m (approx.)
Maximum Take-off weight6100 kg
Propulsion2x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A

External links