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Thursday, October 10, 2013

HAL's struggle with IJT continues; hopes to get IOC in six months; LSP-5 begins test flights

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is struggling with its pet Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) project, almost 10 years after the first prototype had its maiden flight. Sources confirm to Express that, engineers and designers at HAL's Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) are having the daunting task of identifying and correcting the inherent asymmetry of the aircraft. HAL hopes to get the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for IJT by the end of December, a deadline according to insiders, might get pushed to next year.
“The issues of the aircraft have been reported by the pilots during the ongoing tests and also endorsed by BAE Systems. This is coming in a large way for the ongoing stall and spin trials. Pilots had tried their best but the aircraft rolls around 16 degrees thereby forcing them to abort the stall tests,” a source said. HAL had hired BAE Systems to act as consultants to evaluate IJT's stall and spin tests.
While HAL officially refused to give any project update on IJT, saying “there isn't much to share,” sources say that the aircraft is scheduled to undertake crosswind trials at Jamnagar and cold weather trials at Srinagar. “The IOC declaration might happen after these trials. One aircraft is likely to perform the stall and spin permutation and combination exercises parallely, to save time. The designers are even trying wing dressing so as to provide with the best stall experience. So far, all the prototypes coming out are having inherent asymmetry problems,” the official said.
The IJT, which was tipped to reap maximum benefits from HAL's involvement in the Tejas project, lost its flightpath completely in the last seven years following a spate of crashes and management issues. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been waiting patiently for the IJTs with the hope of filling the gaps in its training format. HAL is committed to deliver 12 limited series production (LSP) aircraft to IAF and later 73 series production (SP) planes – the deadlines all looking messier now. Sources said that IJT's LSP-5 aircraft had it's maiden flight during the last week of September this year, with a rolling off problem being reported on day one. However, the test flights of LSP-5 are currently on track, sources said. Copyright@The New Indian Express

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