A mobile grab of Tejas LSP-8 ahead of a low-speed taxi trial at old Bangalore airport.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Express News Service
Belgaum: The near-perfect production standard version of India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas is ready for its first flight at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport in Bangalore. Sources confirm to Express on Wednesday that the Flight Readiness Review Board (FRRB) has now cleared the limited series production (LSP-8) of Tejas for its flight, with a rider that it needs to undertake one more engine ground run (EGR), low-speed taxi trial (LSTT) and high-speed taxi trial (HSTT). “We are closing in and the flight is expected in the next couple of days, if there are no last-minute surprises,” sources said.
The last LSP variant of Tejas is gearing up for the flight just after defence minister A K Antony recently asked its makers not to extend the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for Tejas, sighting that “there are no substitute for self-reliance.” The LSP-8 is of the initial Operation Clearance (IOC) configuration and marked for the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots to undertake flight evaluation trials, along with LSP-7.
Quality concerns: Insiders associated with the project, however, say that there are many build-standard quality concerns of Tejas, all pointing towards HAL. “We have huge concerns with the inferior standards of Tejas. The aerodynamics differences of the contour surfaces are a concern. The ADA-HAL team is addressing the issue, with actual readings and predicted values telling different stories,” says a senior IAF official.
The cracks in the project are becoming wide open with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) refusing to entertain any media queries on Tejas. Sources say that there’s an uneasy calm prevailing in the programme, with increasing doubts being raised by various agencies over the quality of Tejas being produced by HAL.
HAL sources said that any modification introduced on the aircraft has to undergo an extensive evaluation and validation by designers and certification agencies, before the production agency can implement it. “The exercise is a time-consuming one. Accordingly, the LSP-8 is now ready to take to the skies with all the improvements introduced over the last few years,” HAL sources said.
The Deputy Chief of Air Staff is reviewing the programme in Bangalore on Thursday with the heads of all stakeholders, including HAL and ADA, to be present.
Copyright@The New Indian Express