It goes on to add, “The flight proved the functioning of a number of systems such as aerodynamics, redundant flight control, engine, redundant data link etc which go a long way towards development of complex UAVs. A lot of planning and care have been taken and notification through relevant authorities were done in order to cater for safety aspects in addition to taking a third party insurance for the flights. It is the first flight of its kind using a 700 kg airframe & sophisticated controls & hence prone to development hazards.” The photo to the left shows the late Professor Rustom Behram Damania (after whom the UAV programme is named) demonstrating the Light Canard Research Aircraft (LCRA) to then President KR Narayanan. Prof Damania pioneered the LCRA upon which the Rustom UAV is based, though he is better known for his work on the Hansa light composite trainer.
The crash is an undeniable blow to the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), which was in the midst of pioneering the Rustom, first displayed to the public at Aero India 2009 (see photo at top). Here’s hoping the ADE team quickly finds out what went wrong and moves forward. This is a Rs 1,000-crore programme that we cannot afford to have delayed, as it indubitably now will be. Stay tuned for updates.
Photo ©Shiv Aroor