Bengaluru: Two prototypes (PT-1 & PT-2) of the Basic Trainer Aircraft HTT-40 from the hangars of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) are ready for the crucial stall and spin tests.
Since Aero India 2017, the young team from HAL’s Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) were reading both platforms for the stall and spin tests, which had given enough nightmares for the erstwhile HJT-36 (Sitara) project.
Mathrubhumi can now confirm that the design and manufacture of the anti-spin gantry truss has been completed and they have been already integrated on to both prototypes.
The aircraft has already started the flight-testing with the spin gantry and will start the stall and spin tests in shortly.
The truss installation has been a significantly complicated process for the designers and engineers as it had to be installed at the rear part of the aircraft extending it away from the rudder. This has been done ensuring that the rudder doesn’t get obstructed as the parachute is being deployed.
The ASPS (anti-spin parachute system) is a mandatory requirement for undertaking spin tests. The ASPS will be used to arrest the spin manoeuvre, if the aircraft fails to control the spin.
The spin gantry has been imported from American firm Airborne Systems. Insiders say that it has been delivered in a record time of three months as against a cycle time of three years which was taken for earlier projects.
Wind tunnel testing results encouraging
The truss structure is a complicated welded entity, which has tested the nerves of the ARDC team.
“We have done enough wind tunnel model testing and the results are encouraging. The stall and spin characteristics results have further boosted the morale of the team,” says an official.
The designers have been taking an extremely cautious approach keeping in mind the challenges it had thrown for the HJT-36 programme.
The ARDC team has done extensive simulation analyses before arriving at the current configuration.
Both prototypes have completed more than 120 flights, ticking off other test points ahead of the ultimate test.
The certifying agency CEMILAC, which is doubling up as a co-designer in the HTT-40 project, seems to be having a positive bearing on the project. The target set for achieving certification is December 2018.
Interestingly, HAL’s head T S Raju have been playing the mentor’s role for the team, and letting them know on many occasions that the HTT-40 is a project owned by the youngsters of the company.
Parrikar’s backing inspired ARDC team
Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is a huge fan of the HTT-40 project, and has taken immense interest in patting the young team from time to time.
Parrikar had expressed confidence during the first official flight of PT-1 in June 2016 that the young team would deliver an aircraft as per the needs of the user.
With his successor Nirmala Seetharaman expected to visit HAL and DRDO labs in Bengaluru shortly, the ARDC team is leaving no stone unturned to catch the attention of the ‘minister on the move.’
The HTT-40 had stolen the limelight during Aero India 2017 with its 36-year-old Deputy Project Manager Prashant Singh Bhadoria and his team being the most-sought-after-souls at the show.
Started with HAL’s internal funding of Rs 500 crore, the HTT-40 project got the ahead for detailed design in August 2013. The detailed design was completed in 21 months (May 2015) and the BTA PT-I had its maiden flight (unofficial) in May 2016 and PT-2 in May 2017.
Another prototype (PT-3) with optimised design\ reduced weight and a weaponised variant (PT-4) are expected to fly out from the ARDC hangars in future.
(The writer is the Content Consultant with Mathrubhumi (English Online) and tweets @writetake.)