|Photos: HAL HQ|
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News ServiceBangalore: The second prototype (TD-2) of Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) successfully completed the sea-level trials at Air Force Station, Tambaram in Chennai, last month. A product of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the LCH -- painted in camouflage colours -- had the trials from October 28 to November 23. The extensive trials were carried out to validate the design improvements implemented on the prototype based on the feedback from initial sea-level trials carried out during June 2012.
A company official told Express that a total of 32 flights were carried out covering helicopter performance, load measurement, handling qualities for various all-up weights (with external stores installed), bank turns and spot turns, low speed handling, single engine performance and auto-rotation. “Considerable improvements have been observed in the performance parameters in comparison with the earlier sea-level trials. All the test points planned were completed successfully with no major snags observed. Representatives of customers and certifying authorities were present during the trials,” the official said.
Based on the feedback on various tests done on LCH TD-1, the designers have gone for optimum transmission, modified rotor system and additional weight-reduction on TD-2. “The TD-1 had dummy weapons and sensors. Now, the TD-2 will prepare itself for hot weather trials and we will integrate mission sensors and weapons,” the official added.
Confirming the trials, HAL chairman R K Tyagi said that the LCH programme is steadily progressing as per the script. “One phase of trials got over in Chennai and now we are looking forward to other critical missions. The lessons learnt from the Dhruv experience is coming handy to our designers, engineers and Test pilots,” Tyagi said.
Since its first flight in June 2011, the LCH TD-2 has so for logged 96 flying hours (146 sorties). The LCH first prototype (TD1) had its maiden flight on March 29, 2010 and has to its credit over 140 sorties. HAL is in the process of accelerating the prototype development flight testing of LCH to achieve the proposed initial operational clearance (IOC) by December 2015. The company now plans to add another prototype (LCH TD-3) to the flight-line by next year.
Copyright@The New Indian Express