Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has set up a state-of-the-art facility equipped with some of the best aerospace manufacturing technologies to take up the Tejas series production. With a built-up area of 28,000 sq m, the Light Combat Aircraft (Production Group) has already started the series production of Tejas with the mandate of delivering the first aircraft (SP-1) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by March 2014.
The new facility has LCA structural assembly hangar, two flights hangars and machine shops to augment the Tejas production. Backed with a workforce of over 700 personnel, with 80 per cent being in the average age group of 30 years, the set-up has come up with a sanction of approximately Rs. 400 crore.
Each Tejas platform should cost the IAF around Rs. 200 crore. The equipment fitting on SP-1 began this year and 75 per cent of the aircraft structure is already ready.
First 20 aircraft will be rolled out in the initial operational clearance configuration, while the next 20 will be in the final operational clearance format.
The HAL plans to take the production rate to 16 aircraft per year from 2017 onwards. The facility will be upgraded to a major manufacturing complex consisting of sheet metal shop, process shop and heat treatment shop.
Additional hangars are also coming up for support and maintenance, with further augmentation in the pipeline to accommodate the Tejas trainers and naval variant.
All hangars are equipped with forced draft systems to maintain dust, humidity and temperature control.
The HAL has given the mandate to head the new facility to V Sridharan, who has worked extensively on Jaguar and Hawk programmes.
“We have embedded the Tejas production with best lean practices in manufacturing. Maintaining highest quality standards have been the driving philosophy behind, while setting up this unit,” HAL chairman R K Tyagi told Express from Delhi.
Batting for the private industry, the HAL said a total of 9,362 fabricated parts will be manufactured by its external supply chain. “This step is critical in propelling HAL as a lead integrator in the national aerospace ecosystem,” Tyagi said.
A gen-next 5-axis CNC machine installed at the facility is capable of robotically undertaking the wing skin drilling, thereby reducing the turnaround time by 80 per cent. The manufacturing jigs have been calibrated with computer-aided laser tracker to 80 micron tolerance. The manufacturing shop has been equipped with appropriate CAD software for working with digital mockup features.
To aid the IAF’s Tejas squadron formation and associated flight operations, the HAL has built a brand new 5000 sq m tarmac right next to the manufacturing hangar.
The flightline group from the new Tejas facility has supported six detachments (outstation trials)this year. The Tejas variants have also logged the highest ever number of flights (485) this year.