CSIR is literally flying high with many successes in the field of Aerospace. It has been at the forefront in pushing the country’s aerospace programme to new heights with path breaking research at the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL).
CSIR's core competence spans practically the entire aerospace spectrum. Over the years, CSIR has made very significant contributions to all Indian aerospace programmes; often even setting the national agenda for such programmes. During the last decade, NAL has spearheaded the effort to design and develop small and medium-sized aircraft for the civil sector. In recent years, NAL has taken up total flying system development programmes, both to meet the perceived requirements of civil aviation in the country and to synthesise NAL’s multi-disciplinary expertise into visible and marketable products. A number of other CSIR laboratories, e.g. Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO), National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC) have also made significant contributions to this hi-tech sector.
- SARAS: The inaugural flight of SARAS took place at 8.20 a.m. on 22 August 2004. This 14-seater twin-engined turboprop aircraft is fully pressurized for passenger comfort and has a maximum speed of over 600 km/h and a maximum range of 1200 km. Its state-of-the-art avionics, electrical, environmental control and other systems make SARAS a contemporary aircraft of the 21st century.
- HANSA: HANSA is a light trainer aircraft designed and fabricated by NAL, Bangalore. Fabricated entirely out of composite materials, HANSA is ideal for training, sport and hobby flying as well as for surveillance, aerial photography and environmental monitoring. The HANSA aircraft programme has been an unqualified success with half a dozen of these already flying, including three with the Hyderabad, Indore and Trivandrum flying clubs. HANSA aircraft flying in the Indian skies have together notched up more than 2000 flying hours safely.
- Development of carbon fibre composite wings for India’s light combat aircraft (Tejas) programme.
- Design, development and fabrication of one of the world’s largest autoclaves with several innovative features including an advanced control strategy and a Davit arm suspended quick-lock safe door mechanism for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- Development of co-cured fin and rudder for Tejas and a shake test facility for HAL's advanced light helicopter (Dhruv)
- Development of scramjet technologies for hypersonic flight vehicles for VSSC
- Development of a radio-controlled blimp - a low-cost, lighter than air vehicle that can be used for surveillance, flight experiments and other applications for ADRDE, Agra
- Design and development of ground-based and airborne radomes to protect sensitive instrumentation that is deployed in the field for ISTRAC, ISRO, HAL and others.
- Development of flight control software for Tejas
- Automatic Visual Range Assessor for ensuring a safe touchdown
- Development of Flosolver for tapping the power of parallel processing for tropical weather prediction (NMITLI project)
- NALSUN for solar energy for water heating
- Development of powered hang glider, a breakthrough using the Wankel rotary engine
- Design and development of autoclaves, indigenous “pressure cooker” to fabricate composite parts
- Low-cost simulator for understanding the concept of flying
- System identification laboratory for flight data analysis and parameter estimation work
- Rough diamond coatings, a futuristic technology for abrasive applications
- Active noise control for countering the menace of sound pollution
- Development of the SARAS avionics suite
- Shake test table for seismic testing to study the ill-effects of vibration
- NAL DESCALER, a special formulation to remove tough scales
- Data acquisition system for thermo-physical studies for high accuracy, control and precision in theoretical measurements
- Centrifugal castings technology for high temperature applications in industry
- New technologies for composite components including health monitoring system for composite structures, stitching machine to strengthen weak ‘corners’ of composite structures and composite cutting tools for high speed machining.
- Development of pre-pregs and fibres, building blocks for advanced composite components
- Aerodynamic drag reduction opportunities for Karnataka’s state transport buses; a fuel saving of up to 10% is possible; this translates into tens of crores of rupees annually
- CFD for engineering optimization involving flow calculations over aircraft, ships, automobiles and radomes
- Multi-level acoustic calibrator for precise sound level measurements
- Innovative turbo power packs for generating power from phased out aeroengines
- HQPACK, PC based software in MATLAB for analytical evaluation of handling qualities and pilot induced oscillation tendencies of aircraft; HELI-HQPACK for evaluating handling qualities of helicopters.
- CSIO has developed ‘Head Up Display’ for LCA
- NPL has developed Al-Li light weight inserts (INSAT programme), Mg alloy tubes for payload adopter (PSLV/GSLV programme)
On the Horizon:
Some of the future goals of CSIR in this sector are:
- Development of stretched versions of Saras and Hansa,
- Establishment of composites repair technology
- Establishment of composite radome technology
- Development of high temperature materials.