NAL Saras In Tailspin, Russians Called In

Fifteen years after it pulled out from India's Saras light civilian transport aircraft programme, Russia's Myasischev Design Bureau (MDB) is back in the prestigious but persistently shaky airplane project under development by India's National Aerospace Laboratory since the early nineties. The bureau, along with Russia's Tsentralniy Aerogidrodinamicheskiy Institut (TsAGI) and the Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII), have been hurriedly commissioned into the programme to assist in refinement and core modification of the Saras design, which after six years of flight testing, has finally been judged to have faulty design elements. I'm told a team from Myasischev arrived in Bangalore on May 17 on a month-long visit for detailed discussions with programme leaders on the scope of work to be conducted on the Saras, a programme that has been in a fairly troubled state ever since its second prototype crashed tragically last year, killing its three-man test crew. Crash investigations had also pointed to serious flaws in the aircraft's basic design, which could be why the Russians have hurriedly been brought back in. The composition of the Russian team currently at NAL Headquarters in Bangalore tells you a little about what the project is looking for. The team consists of MDB chief designer Dr Alexander Bruk, his deputy Dr Alexander Arkhipov, Chief Specialist on Flight Dynamics Dr Eduard Abramenko, Engineer Designer on Control System Dr Vladimir Vinogadov and Dr Victor Frolovskiy from the Department of Design. The scope of work to be conducted by Myasischev includes flight testing and certification of the aircraft as well.

Tomorrow on LiveFist: never-before details of India's low-key UCAV programme.

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