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AAD: Denel announces launch of indigenous South African regional aircraft SARA

Posted 18 September 2014 · Add Comment

South Africa is to develop its own regional aircraft dubbed SARA – South African Regional Aircraft – programme, led by the country's defence giant Denel.

“We have all of the skills from the work we have done in the defence industry and believe we can work with partners to make this happen,” said Denel Aerostructures chief executive Ismail Dockrat.
Denel unveiled a mock-up of the 24-seat turboprop at the AAD event in Tshwane this morning..
Riaz Saloojee, the Group CEO of Denel said the plan for SARA has been endorsed by a wide range of government and industry stakeholders and that Denel will continue to lead research and feasibility studies to make the project a reality.
Dockrat said the company was anticipating a seven year development programme through FAR Part 45 certification. “We are in pre-development stage right now,” he said. “We could have an aircraft flying in two years but we have experience on working through certtification programees – with the A400M for example – so we know what is involved.”
Denel’s research showed that while a lot of the world with major hubs will be using larger Aircraft, the rapid growth in air travel on the African continent will create a demand for a new generation aircraft that can fly point-to-point. “There is a clear need to link regional centres that are not currently accessible for passenger flights,” he said. “There is proven capacity within the local aerospace industry to deliver on an indigenous South African aircraft, as demonstrated with the success we achieved in the development of the Rooivalk helicopter.
Dockrat stressed that Sara is not a Denel airplane. “ It is not a Denel project it is just Denel led,” he said. “We will work with others and will be looking for risk sharing or financial investment from international companies. Perhaps even other OEMs. From around the world.”
The SARA is expected to have a range of 1,500 nautical miles and will have a pressurised cabin to enable it to avoid weather issues that affect similar sized aircraft.
“If you look at the market, aircraft in this category are using 20-year-old technology. This will utilise the latest technology which will make the aircraft economic with fuel burn and comfotable for passengers.
It will have three configurations. Commuter with up to 24 seats, Combi or all cargo.
There is not fixed plans on cost at this stage.
Saloojee said the SARA project is in line with the country’s Aerospace Sector Development Plan which has identified aerospace as a “priority sector.” It is an exciting and challenging project that will come to fruition over the next decade and ensure the participation of the country’s next generation of aeronautical engineers and artisans,” he said. “It could be a catalyst for economic growth, infrastructure development, tourism and job creation in rural and outlying areas,” he said
Among the challenges will be to design a 15-passenger variant that will be able to take off and land on short airfields in regional centres that are currently not served by scheduled flights. Only 17 of the more than 420 local airfields in South Africa currently form part of a scheduled airline service.
Regular passenger flights to such destinations will help to unlock the economic potential of previously marginalised areas and deliver significant benefits to local and regional economies, Saloojee said.
Speaking at the launch, Denel said that while this was primarily a civilian project, the designers would look at the possibility of defence applications.


PICTURED: Model of the new SARA unveiled at AAD today

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