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.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 programs.
|NAL Fullform||National Aerospace Laboratories|
|Headquarters||Bangalore, Karnataka, India|
Mr. Shyam Chetty, Director
NAL Wind Tunnel Rd, Ambedkar Nagar, Kempapura, Bellandur, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560037
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 program, 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 1,300 with about 350 full-fledged R&D professionals. NAL is equipped with facilities such as the Nilakantan Wind tunnelCentre and a computerized fatigue test facility. NAL also has facilities for investigating failures and accidents in aerospace.
NAL: A Milestone in Indian Civil Aviation
(1) An Aircraft out of Foam & Fibre – foundation for CSIR-NAL to build light aircraft
In 1983-84, CSIR-NAL started the project to fabricate an all-composite aircraft using a kit bought from Rutan in the USA. The project led by R B Damania gave CSIR-NAL teams very valuable insights in building airworthy composite structures. The aircraft, called the Light Canard Research Aircraft (LCRA), was ready by the end of 1986. The LCRA, with Wg Cdr Ashoka, HAL’s Chief Test Pilot, made its maiden flight on 26 February 1987. After the LCRA success, CSIR-NAL seriously started the preparatory work to design and build a light aircraft.
(2) The HANSA Success- flying at four Indian flying clubs
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 January 29, 2011. On behalf of CSIR-NAL, AAC gave flight demonstration of this aircraft at the International Air Show, Aero India 2011 held at Bangalore during 9-13 February 2011.
(3) The SARAS- multirole light transport aircraft
SARAS had its maiden flight on 29 May 2004. The aircraft took off at 8.15 am 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 2×1200 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 airfields. 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.
(4)Five Seater General Civil Aviation Aircraft (C-NM5) – The country’s first public-private partnership (PPP) in civil aviation
C-NM5 is the country’s first public-private partnership (PPP) for a development of civil transport aircraft in collaboration with M/s Mahindra Aerospace Pvt.Ltd (MAPL). On the 1st of 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; a glass cockpit is a customer option. It is an ideal aircraft for air taxi, air ambulance, training, tourism, and cargo.
The Successful Journey: Golden Jubilee celebrations – marking the success
CSIR-NAL Celebrated its Golden Jubilee year during 2008-2009; it was a momentous year for CSIR-NAL, the culmination of its dedicated service to the nation in the strategically important and technologically challenging area of aerospace science and technologies during the last five decades. In marking the success of the journey, a number of events were organized during the celebration year which included five international conferences, twenty-seven national conferences/seminars/workshops/lectures/courses, and eleven laboratory level events. A few glimpses marking the Golden Jubilee celebrations are depicted below.
Felicitation for CSIR-NAL – recognition for contributions to growth of Civil Aviation
CSIR-NAL was felicitated for its contributions to the growth of Civil Aviation in India on the occasion of the Inauguration of Centenary Celebrations of Civil Aviation in India on 18 February 2011 at New Delhi by Shri Vayalar Ravi, Hon’ble Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation.
NAL – The Way Forward: National Civil Aircraft Development Programme: CSIR-NAL has completed the feasibility study on design and development of a National Civil Aircraft for regional connectivity under the guidance of a High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted by the Government. The aircraft will help to connect Tier-II and Tier-III cities with the major metros, thereby boosting the inclusive economic growth of India. The feasibility study concluded that there is a market potential for a 70-to-100 seat regional transport aircraft. The baseline design is a 90 seat twin turbofan engine powered aircraft. It is proposed to implement the program through a JV partner.
National Programme on Micro Air Vehicle: CSIR-NAL will play a pivotal role in the currently sanctioned joint program of DRDO and DST on National Programme on Micro Air Vehicle (NP-MICAV). This program envisages the development of various advanced technologies and facilities related to different types of MAVs. The primary missions of interest of MAVs are in the areas of surveillance and reconnaissance and real-time imagery to provide valuable information.
The initiatives in MAV program in Twelfth Five Year Plan include:
a. Design and development of 150 mm span fixed-wing MAVs under NP-MICAV with an outlay of Rs. 100 crores. This envisages the development of advanced technologies like indoor surveillance using vision-aided navigation, collaborative control, and relay communication.
b. Development of nano air vehicles (75 mm span) with associated micro/nano technologies.
c. Two-kg Fixed Wing Mini Unmanned Air Vehicle: Development of a Two-kg Fixed Wing Mini Unmanned Air Vehicle for low-intensity conflict groups. This fully autonomous mini UAV would be operating at high altitudes up to 15000ft, with a range of 10km and endurance of 60 minutes. It would provide real-time video surveillance by day-light, electro-optic and thermal imaging sensors.
Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft by ADA: CSIR-NAL is expected to play a significant role in the development of the proposed Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft by ADA, Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and Medium Transport Aircraft programs of HAL.
Felicitation for CSIR-NAL – recognition for contributions to growth of Civil Aviation: CSIR-NAL was felicitated for its contributions to growth of Civil Aviation in India on the occasion of the Inauguration of Centenary Celebrations of Civil Aviation in India on 18 February 2011 at New Delhi by Shri Vayalar Ravi, Hon’ble Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation.