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Chapter 9 : NAL and Trainers


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The National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) of India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),  having successfully launched the 'Saras' after independent design and development, has come a long way from building a Rutan Long-EZ design for research purposes. Today, most of the infrastructure and facilties for composite development and manufacture, and in-country wind tunnel testing, also lie with NAL. NAL have alway been active participants in Aero India, displaying most of their product lineup. A surprisingly large number of lighter aircraft were present at the show, including the main static display, more as replacements rather than additions. It was also amusing to see them mixed with the larger jets on display.   
The all-composite 'Hansa' trainer (VT-HBL), represents NAL's first successful project and has always been a regular exhibit. The Hansa-III is the final, weight-reduced and re-engined variant with the Rotax 914 replacing the Teledyne IO-240, driving a two-bladed Hoffman constant-speed propeller.   
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VT-HBL taxies out. This particular example was also NAL's entry in Air Race India, 2003. Only recently certified by the Indian  DGCA, the Hansa-3 is also to be eventually certified in Australia and Canada.      

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The Hansa makes a short and slow takeoff. The next aircraft in the series, the stretched 4-seat Hansa-4, is to be powered by the SMA SR305 engine. With a GRP structure, the airframe life is very high. 
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The aircraft put on a short and impressive flying display. The Hansa has been a part of every Aero India so far.  
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The NAL Saras, India's very first indigenous 14-seat civil/passenger aircraft, made a surprise visit during the inauguration and flew once or twice during the following days as well. It was also a surprise to finally see the aircraft painted very neatly in it's intended scheme which is similar to the Hansa's. This aircraft was flown by  Wg Cdr Makker and Sq Ldr Vivek Kumar from ASTE.  
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'XSD' represents Prof. Satish Dhawan, ex-NAL chairman,  the father of India's space programme as well as ardid supporter of indigenous civilian aircraft programmes. The second prototype will be VT-XRM, named after the late Dr.Raj Mahindra, widely acknowledged as the father of the LCA concept. He however, resigned in 1985 due to political reasons.   
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A four-seat, stretched Hansa-4/S and the 17-19 seat Saras-S are to be future variants of projects currently underway. Both the Hansa and Saras will be manufactured by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd. (TAAL) who have also assembled the Partenavia P68C Observer and the AP68T Viator, under license.   
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This confirms that at one of the early LCA concepts was a Gripen-esque canard-double-delta. Note the wing-tip Magic-2 AAMs. Constructing the models themselves and the actual wing tunnel testing, are both expensive ventures, meaning that there must have been a level of seriousness behind the design. The other model is that of the HAL HF-73 concept.   
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For those who are unfamiliar with the design, this Long-EZ (N15NS) isn't broken! This is a privately owned unit. NAL's own all-composite Light Canard Research Aircraft (LCRA) (VT-XIU), also a Long-EZ design, was built in the 80s for research purposes. The aircraft seems rather out of place in the main static display.   
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No one seemed to care much for this Long-EZ. The LCRA, NAL's first, was built by the Hansa's designer, the late Prof. Rustum Damania and his small team of engineers, thus forming the starting point and nucleus of small aircraft design at NAL. One of the early Hansa concepts, also used a pusher propeller.  
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The Long-EZ takes off, virtually unnoticed, although it wasn't really a part of the flight display. This example, owned by Mr. Pawan Kaula from the state of Tamil Nadu, also took part in Air Race India 2003 during which, Mr. Kaula's 12 year old son, Mashaan, acted as the co-pilot. 
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A HPT-32 'Deepak' (X-2574). This type never flew even though HAL's colorful HPT-32 (X-3230) flew during the previous years, including 1998.      
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The HPT-32, along with the HJT-16, would have been nice additions to larger, combat jets but weren't good as 'fillers' which weren't even represented as a part of the flying display.
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HAL Kiran Mk.II (U-2482). The operating unit is unknown, possibly HAL or ASTE. The two Kirans which were part of the composite arrowhead formation, were from ASTE, often used as chase planes during the flight of experimental aircraft such as the Saras and LCA. 
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Incidentally, this example's predecessors, U-2480 and U-2481 are a part of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT). At times, very large numbers of HJT-16s can be seen at the HAL Airport, either from the HAL Overhaul Division or from the ASTE which continues to tinker with these ageing aircraft.   
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