By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, November 8: The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme received a shot in the arm when PV6 (Prototype Vehicle 6), a final configuration two-seater trainer aircraft from the flight-line, successfully completed its maiden flight at the HAL Airport in Bengaluru on Saturday. The flight was piloted by Grp Capt Vivart Singh along with co-pilot Grp Capt Anoop Kabadwal, both Test Pilots from the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) here.
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Director P.S. Subramanyam told OneIndia that the flight lasted for around 35-minutes. “Yet another flight that stuck to the textbook plans. The pilots were able to do all the planned maneuvers with great ease. The new engine was tested to full power under all available conditions,” Subramanyam said.
The PV-6 climbed to a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet, touched 0.7 Mach (speed) and pitched up to 14 degrees angle of attack (AoA). This is the 15th Tejas variant to have flown as part of the programme, the earlier ones being TD1, TD2, PV1, PV2, PV3, PV5 (Trainer), LSP1, LSP2, LSP3, LSP4, LSP5,LSP7, LSP8 and SP1. A naval variant (NP-1) of LCA is also undergoing flight trials now.
Final trainer prototype: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Chairman R K Tyagi, who spoke to OneIndia from Delhi over the phone, said that with Saturday’s successful flight of PV6, the series production activities will gain further momentum. “It’s another achievement done by my team along with other stakeholders. Today, I am confident that every Tejas variant coming out of our hangars will act as our brand ambassador,” Tyagi said.
HAL said that all systems onboard PV6 responded as expected during the course of the flight. The PV6 is the second two-seater having the capability to deliver all air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons as mandated by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the programme’s much-awaited Final Operational Clearance. “We wanted to check the functioning of the twin cockpit and its features on board PV6, based on which the series production requirements of the two-seater trainer will be finalised. Further flights of PV6 will ensure that all the post-flight feedback from the pilots is incorporated,” Tyagi added.
2700-plus flights sans any major incidents: Since its maiden flight on January 4, 2001, various Tejas variants have together completed 2,772 flights as on date logging approximately 1800 hours. With no single mishaps till date, the HAL-ADA-IAF combine have given a new thrust to the programme, notwithstanding its delays. In addition to the new engine (GE-404 IN20), PV6 had on board a new communication system, radar, EW sensors and navigation systems for automatic landing. Operations from the front and rear cockpits are fully exchangeable.