National Aerospace Laboratories
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|Established||1 June 1959|
Field of research
|Director||Jitendra J Jadhav|
- For the Japanese aerospace laboratory, see National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan, for the Dutch aerospace laboratory, see National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands
National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), is India's second largest aerospace firm after Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). It was established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Delhi in 1959 and its headquarters was later moved to Bangalore in 1960. The firm closely operates with HAL, DRDO and ISRO and has the prime responsibility of developing civilian aircraft in India. The CSIR-NAL mandate is to develop aerospace technologies with strong science content, design and build small and medium-sized civil aircraft, and support all national aerospace programmes.
NAL is a high technology oriented institution concentrating on advanced topics in the aerospace and related disciplines. Originally started as National Aeronautical Laboratory, it was renamed National Aerospace Laboratories to reflect its major involvement in the Indian space programme, its multidisciplinary activities and global positioning. It is India's only civilian aerospace laboratory with a high level of competence and the expertise of its scientists is globally acknowledged.
NAL employs a staff of about 2,500 with about 350 full-fledged R&D professionals. NAL is equipped with facilities such as the Nilakantan Wind tunnel Centre and a computerised fatigue test facility. NAL also has facilities for investigating failures and accidents in aerospace.
The story of CSIR-NAL began on 1 June 1959, when the National Aeronautical Research Laboratory (NARL) was set up in Delhi, with Dr P Nilakantan as its first Director. Barely nine months later, in March 1960, it made its humble beginning by setting up its office in the stables of the Palace of Maharaja of Mysore on Jayamahal Road, Bangalore as National Aeronautical Laboratory(NAL). The first Executive Council was chaired by JRD Tata and was studded with luminaries such as Prof Satish Dhawan and the legendary designer Dr V M Ghatage. Originally started as National Aeronautical Laboratory, it was renamed National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in April 1993 to reflect its growing involvement in the Indian space programme, its multidisciplinary activities and global position.
CSIR has approved ₹300 crore ($75 million) to design an aeroplane that can carry 70 passengers on short flights, and compete with planes of Franco-Italian aircraft maker ATR in Indian skies. The project will be called RTA-70. NAL would use the money to design a digital concept plane in around two years. The money will also be used to improve infrastructure at the lab. Once additional funding for the ₹2,000 crore project and its partners are firmed up, a prototype would be built and flown in four years. The first prototype would be a 70-seat plane. It is a family of aircraft that NAL is designing and will have three variants, a 70-seater, a 50-seater and an extended 90-seater version to be called RTA-90 with option of both Turbo prop and Turbo fan as power source.
The maiden flight of CSIR-NAL's light trainer aircraft, now called HANSA, took place on 17 November 1993. The aircraft is an ab-initio two-seat, all composite aircraft, certified by DGCA in the year 2000 under JAR-VLA certification. DGCA has promoted the deployment of HANSA-3 in the country by various flying clubs; a total of fourteen aircraft are in operation. While thirteen aircraft are currently flying in the Indian skies, out of which ten are with various flying clubs and one with IIT-Kanpur. Recently one more Hansa-3 aircraft bearing registration number VT-HOE was allotted to the Amritsar Aviation Club by DGCA on 29 January 2011. On behalf of CSIR-NAL, AAC gave flight demonstration of this aircraft at the International Air Show, Aero India 2011 held at Bengaluru during 9–13 February 2011. , light-weight trainer aircraft
- NAL/HAL SARAS - multirole light transport aircraft
SARAS had its maiden flight on 29 May 2004. The aircraft took off at 08:15 hrs and flew over about 25 minutes. SARAS is the first civilian aircraft designed and developed in India. Two prototypes have been built and flown (176 flight) by ASTE (IAF) flight crew. Third prototype aircraft (production standard) is under production at CSIR-NAL. Features include composite wing VERITy (Vacuum Enhanced Resin Infusion Technology), empennage, rear pressure bulkhead, front fuselage top skin and control surfaces. The aircraft will be equipped with an all glass cockpit including EICAS and 3-axis autopilot (limited authority). Powered by 2x1200 SHP turboprop PT6A-67A engines (Pratt & Whitney) driving 5 blade MT-Propellers. SARAS is capable of flying up to 30,000 ft (cabin altitude 8,000 ft) and is capable of operation from short air fields. Certification is under progress by CEMILACand is to be completed by 2013. SARAS has been designed for many roles viz, executive transport, light package carrier, remote sensing, air ambulance etc.
- NAL NM5 - Five Seater - General Aviation Aircraft
C-NM5 is the country's first public-private partnership (PPP) for development of civil transport aircraft in collaboration with M/s Mahindra Aerospace Pvt Ltd (MAPL). On 1 September 2011, a milestone event for India's first public-private partnership in aircraft development, and a bold dream became reality; C-NM5 designed & developed jointly by CSIR-NAL & Mahindra Aerospace successfully undertook its first flight in Australia. C-NM5 is powered by a 300 HP piston engine driving a 3-blade propeller cruising at a speed of 160 knots with a maximum AUW (All Up Weight) of 1525 kg; glass cockpit is a customer option. It is an ideal aircraft for air taxi, air ambulance, training, tourism and cargo.
Unmanned aerial vehicles
- aurora (17 August 2008). "NAL : Pioneering Excellence for 50 years". Sankalp India Foundation. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- K. Raghu (14 April 2008). "Aerospace lab to design, build 90-seat aeroplane". Livemint. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- HAL Abandons RTA-70 Project, HAL abandons Regional Transport Aircraft project, The tirbune, 29 November 2016