6 Mar : A second prototype of Saras, India’s first indigenously designed civilian plane, crashed during a test flight on Friday killing all the three crew members on board at Bidadi near Banglore in a "setback" to the project.
The NAL-built small prototype aircraft crashlanded in an open area at Sheshagirihalli at 3.45 PM and burst into flames.Charred bodies of Wing Commander Praveen, Wing Commander Shah and Squadron Leader Ilayaraja were retrieved from the wreckage of the aircraft which was completely destroyed in the accident, police said..
The aircraft was second prototype of Saras and was on its test flight schedule, a top official of state-run National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) said."The aircraft lost control and crash-landed near Bidadi," he said adding, "We lost three crew members".
The crew members were experienced persons drawn from Air Force.On the cause of the crash, he said, "It is too early to say…. An inquiry would be conducted".
The aircraft, which is eight to 14-seater, was on its 49th test flight.On whether the crash was a setback to the Saras project, he said, "It should not have happened…Yes there will be a setback… but we need to move forward and see what has to be done".
"We have to look at the data. An inquiry would be conducted and an expert team would analyse the data and submit its report," the NAL official told the news agency.He said they would have to wait the details of the data analysis and examine it in depth. All this, he said, usually took some time.
Police said five fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the blaze and a parachute was found at the crash site.Top officials of NAL rushed to the spot soon after the incident.Saras, a multi-role light transport aircraft, is aimed at meeting the requirements of executive transport, air ambulance and other community services.
Two prototypes of the aircraft are currently flying.The first one had completed 126 flights logging around 70 hours.Both the prototypes had featured in Aero India shows.
Currently work is on to reduce the weight of the aircraft by 500 kg and the production standard aircraft is expected to have its first flight this year.