Unfazed by the crash of its prototype 14-seater passenger aircraft, scientists will go ahead with the project to develop the country's first indigenous plane.
"The Saras project will continue, we will not shelve it," S K Brahmachari, director general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research told PTI in New Delhi.
The second prototype of Saras civilian plane had crashed on Friday near Bengaluru killing three IAF test pilots. The aircraft built by the National Aerospace Laboratories was completely destroyed in the accident.
NAL is one of the 37 research institutes governed by the CSIR. Brahmachari has held discussions with officers of the Indian Air Force and civil aviation authorities after the accident. He said the prototype-I of the aircraft will be modified and converted to a prototype-III by fitting the higher thrust Pratt and Whitney engines.
The Union Cabinet has already approved additional funds for the project as well as for developing a 70-seater passenger aircraft. Brahmachari, who met scientists at NAL and relatives of the deceased pilots on Saturday, said that father of one of the pilots told him that completion of the project would be a fitting tribute to his son.
Brahmachari said that after the Cabinet nod, procurement has begun to build a Production Standards Aircraft and some of the components may be diverted for the prototype III.
Saras was undergoing mandatory tests by Air-borne Systems Testing Establishment as a part of the process of getting a Directorate General of Civil Aviation certification for operating in India.
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 the Aero India shows.
On Friday last, the prototype-II had successfully undertaken the relighting test with one engine switched off. It had climbed to a higher altitude but lost contact with the central tower. It had regained contact after about 3-4 minutes, thereafter it lost contact again. The wreckage was found in an open area at Bidadi near Bengaluru.