Tejas SP-3 ready for maiden flight
Bengaluru: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is warming up to conduct the first flight of the third series production variant (SP-3) of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, soon.
The EGR (engine ground run) has been completed and now the aircraft is being prepared for LSTT (low-speed taxi trials).
“Then the HSTT (high-speed taxi trials) leading to the first flight,” says an official. HAL hopes to conduct the SP-3 first flight within a week, subject to favourable weather conditions and zero snags. Air Commodore K A Muthanna (Retd) is set to fly SP-3.
However, the dream of Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha to have four Tejas’ flying over Hindon Air Force base, during Air Force Day (October 8), might not happen this year.
“Both SP-1 and SP-2 are sure to fly with one more from the flightline on the static display,” says an official. SP-3 is unlikely to make it to Hindon this time, though HAL officials are making efforts to position it on the static display arena.
The SP-3 comes with more value additions with around 340 pipelines and 50 panels now achieving ICY or interchangeability standards. (ICY ensures quick replacement of a component without any design changes affecting operational performance.)
“In the next aircraft, around 100 panels and 700-plus pipelines will be in the ICY standards,” says an official.
HAL conducted the first flight of SP-1 on September 1, 2014 while the SP-2 had its maiden sorties on March 23, 2016.
On July 1, this year, the IAF formally inducted Tejas (No 45 Flying Daggers Sqn) with two aircraft and Group Captain Madhav Rangachari as its Commanding Officer.
“The IAF is happy with the performance of both the aircraft and we are delighted with the feedback we received recently from the Squadron,” says HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju. The inducted platforms have both completed around 30 flights as this report goes live.
As reported by Mathrubhumi earlier, Raju has given a freehand to the young LCA Division to launch innovative ideas so that the IAF gets the remaining aircraft (18 numbers) as per the plan.
“The results are showing with our team now working on two shifts even on Sundays,” says an insider.
HAL hopes to take the Tejas deliver tally to six aircraft (SP-1 & SP-2 included) by end of March 2017. Components up to SP-9 are already in different stages of assembly, coupling and equipping on various jigs at the LCA Division.