Clearing Flight Test Parameters was a Challenge, Says Airworthiness Centre - The New Indian Express

Clearing Flight Test Parameters was a Challenge, Says Airworthiness Centre

Published: 18th December 2013 08:27 AM

Last Updated: 18th December 2013 08:27 AM

The scientists attached to the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) are giving final touches to the 500-plus-page Release to Service Document -- which will be handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) as an assurance of the test points completed by Tejas variants ahead of its second initial operational clearance (IOC-2).

Ever since the IOC-1 event held on January 10, 2011, the CEMILAC team had their task cut out to go through a series of complex certification processes to ensure the supreme safety of the aircraft.

In an interview to Express on Tuesday, Dr K Tamil Mani, Director-General (Aeronautical Systems), DRDO, and Chief Executive, CEMILAC, admitted that the certification process of Tejas was the most challenging task his team has undertaken so far.

“All the aspects that we have handled are directly related to the safety of the aircraft. In the initial days, the term certification and the nuances involved were alien to many. But today, we are the final word. There are no compromises ever made,” Tamil Mani said. The CEMILAC officials had on many occasions rejected the inputs provided by various stakeholders of Tejas.

The fact that Tejas had no major incidents reported since its maiden flight on January 4, 2001, is seen as the result of strict flight clearance mechanisms put in place by the CEMILAC and other certifying agencies.

“Regulatory bodies no longer isolate themselves to the rule book. Their concurrent participation in all development activities has enhanced better understanding of the safety implications of the aircraft, eventually leading to smoother certification,” Tamil Mani said.

During the IOC-2 period, the stores integration and release (including missile firing) were undertaken on several occasions, clearing crucial test points.

“The multi-mode radar (Elta from Israel) was integrated and completely tested. The operational capabilities of Tejas at high altitude and low temperature were tested at Leh, in addition to expanding the flight envelope to 6 G,” said P R Baghel, Group Director (Systems), CEMILAC.

The IOC-2 period also saw the AoA (Angle of Attack) of the aircraft being increased from 17 to 22 degrees. The aircraft demonstrated its capability to touch the AoA of 24 degrees as well. (Higher AoA is not a regular phenomenon and it happens only during carefree manoeuvring.)

Among other critical parameters cleared by Tejas include emergency jettisoning of all stores at one go (ensuring they do not collide with each other after the release), engine relight, wake penetration, night flying and all weather clearance.

The aircraft has touched a maximum speed of 1.4 Mach and a maximum height of 50,000 ft so far.

Barring minor snags such as tyre burst, increase in brake temperature, wrong indication of fuel quantity and non-deployment of brake parachute, the 2,445 flights logged by Tejas have been incident-free.

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