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October 17, 2007

Future Plans of NAL by Dr Upadhya at Zephyr 2007

Dr AR Upadhya, director of National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), gave a lecture on “Future Plans of NAL” at Zephyr 2007, an aero festival organised by aerospace engineering department of IIT Bombay, Powai, on 6th October. The lecture was really an eye opener for students for making an interesting career in NAL. Dr Upadhya clearly showcased the quality of work done in NAL and as a final note made an appeal to the IIT students to consider the kind of work at NAL, which the private companies, who are right now attracting brightest and the best talents in the country by giving high salary, could in no way match.

NAL is already ready with two prototypes of the rear mounted twin-engine Saras. The prototypes are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines and had had a successful maiden flight on 14 April 2007. The flight certification is expected in 2009. Dr Upadhya pointed out that the aircraft overweighed 500kg earlier but with the use of light carbon-fibre composites, the weight has been reduced considerably.

NAL’s most ambitious project is development and production of regional jet which will come in three variations – a 70-seater, 50-seater and a 90-seater. The jet will be lighter and thus more fuel-efficient so as to successfully compete with other regional jet makers in different countries.

NAL is also currently working on NM5, an aircraft which is either four or six seater, in partnership with Mahindra Plexion, and the first flight of the prototype is expected to take place by the end of 2008. NAL also has longstanding foreign collaboration with China Aerospace, the jet turbine maker Pratt & Whitney and many others in different countries.

NAL has made number of achievements in the field of carbon fibre composites. It has developed a low-cost method with vacuum-enhanced resin infusion technology for making composite components. These components are being used in Saras. In fact, the wings of India's fourth-generation Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) have composite components developed by NAL. Also, the middle part of the fuselage and airframe and the doors for the landing gear were developed by NAL. The composite technology is right now used in making radomes of Doppler radars too.

NAL has also developed Zirconi-based ceramic inserts for launch vehicles to tolerate temperatures up to 3,200 degrees Kelvin. Right now, the development of Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) for the fins of the reusable launch vehicles and the technology to burn fuel at supersonic speeds in scramjets used in air-breathing hypersonic launch vehicle, for ISRO, are going on.

In engine field, NAL has developed a prototype for a 55 HP Wankel rotary engine and currently working on integration of microgas turbine, for which all parts are ready. Another field is development of micro-air vehicles, for surveillance purposes.

Apart from these, NAL is specialized in failure analysis and is involved in crash investigations. It is also specialized in development of test equipments like wind tunnels, aero-elastic modeling, G-meters, active noise control devices, semi-free jet test rig (developed along with Pratt & Whitey), computational fluid dynamics, flow visualization and pressure-sensitive paint and a software to monitor aircraft performance.


Jam said...

"...The jet will be lighter and thus more fuel-efficient..."
Reducing the mass of an aircraft can only reduce the fuel consumption, and not the fuel efficiency.

Akilan said...

ya true.. but in transportation, fuel efficiency is the range covered per fuel consumed.. for more information on fuel efficiency, read the following wiki link..

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