BENGALURU: The SARAS aircraft, developed by National Aeronautics Laboratories, took to the skies on Thursday and completed a 40 minute trip before returning to the HAL airport in the morning. The Saras PT1N, a 14 seater aircraft, made its maiden flight in its new avatar. According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), it was a textbook flight. The upgraded version of the plane was being developed after the programme was nearly scrapped following a crash in March 2009.
According to a statement by CSIR-NAL, the flight, commanded by Wing Commander U P Singh, Group Captains R V Panicker and K P Bhat from Indian Air Force - Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), took off from HAL airport at 11am. It flew at a maximum height of 8,500 feet at a speed of 145 knots. It was chased by a Kiran aircraft which was piloted by Group Captain Badrish.
The objective of the flight was to evaluate the system performance. Data will be collected from 20 flights in order to freeze the design of production version aircraft. The production version aircraft will be a 19 seater and will undergo civil and military certification.