Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Low-intensity explosion at CABS’ Lightning Test Facility (LTF) in Bangalore; incident ahead of tests on Tejas' fuel tank(s); DRDO says probe on into 'unusual experience'

Friday, December 31, 2010

Low-intensity explosion at CABS’ Lightning Test Facility (LTF) in Bangalore; incident ahead of tests on Tejas' fuel tank(s); DRDO says probe on into 'unusual experience'

The Lightning Test Facility (LTF) at CABS. (Below), some technical details on LTF. 
An explosion of low-intensity occurred at DRDO's Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) on December 30, Thursday exactly at 5.15 pm. Though, the incident happened yesterday, the details are slowly trickling in now. Ten people were injured, including 4 IAF officials, in the incident. Shankar Bhat, Scientist-G with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), has been operated upon his left eye at a Bangalore-based hospital today, following splinters hitting his eyes. Two IAF officials are still admitted at Command Hospital and the rest have been discharged from hospital(s).
The incident happened at the Lightning Test Facility (LTF) of CABS -- specifically set-up for the LCA program, 10 years back. According to military sources, around 20 people had gathered at LTF to conduct a routine test. There were to do some confirmatory tests on the Tejas’ fuel tank(s), as part of the certification process. In addition to IAF officials, there were scientists and engineers from ADA, CEMILAC, HAL, CABS and IISc present at LTF. A Board of Inquiry has been set up to ascertain the cause of the incident and it is likely to be headed by an IISc expert. Military sources confirm that the window panes of the viewing area fell apart, when a small ignition (controlled) was done ahead of the test. This has caused injuries (due to splinters) to those around. LTF is funded by ADA and many platforms of DRDO (not just Tejas) are tested periodically here. Even the private agencies also use this national test facility.
Here’s the official version from a senior CABS official: Before conducting any lightning tests, we will have to do a small ignition (controlled) test. This is the testing of the test facility. Yesterday, we were about to test the fuel tanks of Tejas as part of the certification process, ahead of the IOC. Since, Tejas is an all-weather fighter, we had to see the effects (2 types) of lighting on the platform. If the lightning hits the aircraft, it can affect external parts, including the radome. This is called direct effect. It can also damage the fly-by-wire systems, electro-magnetic surroundings (instruments) – which fall under indirect effect.
Before testing various parts of the aircraft, we do the fuel-air-mixture ignition test on the custom-built rig. Yesterday, while this pre-test-ignition was done, the window panes of the viewing area were shattered due to a minor explosion. It shouldn’t have happened. It's an unusual experience. As a result, 10 of our colleagues got injured due to splinters. We are investigating the incident and a Board of Inquiry is being set-up now. The Tejas program is on track and this is a minor incident.
(IMPORTANT: Please note that the incident occurred AHEAD of the fuel tank(s) test and NOT during the test. Request, all those who copy this post, NOT to blow it out of proportion. The Tejas IOC is on track and the mega event will happen on January 10, 2011 as reported earlier. Tonight, Tarmak007 will have an interesting video along with the regular Tejas update -- as a New Year Special.)

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