Three IAF pilots dead in Saras crash in Bangalore outskirts

A prototype of the indigenous Saras aircraft crashed during a test sortie some 30 km outside of Bangalore at 1605 hours on Friday, three Indian Air Force test pilots aboard the ill-fated craft died after the aircraft caught fire.

Saras, a 14 seater aircraft, is designed and developed by the state-run National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) based in Bangalore.

The deceased test pilots were identified as Squadron Leader Ilairaj, Wing Commander Praveen and Wing Commander Shah.

“The Saras aircraft, which took off from the HAL airport in the city at 2.55 pm on a test flight, crashed around 4.05 pm in a field near Bidadi on the outskirts of the city. The Bangalore rural police told us all the three pilots died after the aircraft caught fire,” an official of the IAF’s aircraft systems & testing establishment (ASTE) was quoted as saying in the first confirmation of the reports.

The IAF is said to have coptered down a rescue team to the crash site.

An enquiry is expected to follow into the incident.

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