BANGALORE: The first flight of the limited series production (LSP-7) version of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is in a striking distance. Sources confirm to Express that the LSP-7 performed the crucial High-Speed Taxi Trial (HSTT) on Thursday in nose-wheel-lift mode at about 260 kmph. A data analysis de-brief is scheduled on Friday to check various parameters of the aircraft during the HSTT, which was the second for LSP-7.
“If the results are encouraging, then we would have the first flight any time. The Flight Readiness Review Board has already cleared the aircraft for its maiden moment in the sky,” sources said. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) officials at Old Bangalore Airport, too, confirmed that the activities relating to LSP-7 has reached a critical stage with all safety precautions put on an any-time-ready mode.
On Thursday, Grp Capt Venugopal of the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) did the HSTT, which is a pointer that he might take the LSP-7 for the first flight. “It is a positive step to see more platforms joining the flight-line. We need more of them so that we can divide our tasks and hasten the programme,” a source with the Aircraft System Testing Establishment of the Indian Air Force (IAF) said.
The IAF pilots from ASTE would finally begin evaluation of Tejas once the LSP-7 is ready. “The Standard of Preparation (SoP) of this aircraft is made for user evaluation trials for both flight as well as maintenance, which is the same for the production variant. Intense flight trials for demonstrating the performance of sensors and armaments are going on,” HAL sources said.
With LSP-7, the 12th aircraft from the project flight-line would join the Tejas party with another (LSP-8) scheduled to be rolled out in future. Express had reported earlier about a fuel leak on LSP-7, which forced the Aeronautical Development Agency(ADA)-HAL combo to ground the entire fleet.
wwThis delayed the programme by four-five months - the time taken by designers and engineers in re-arranging the butting of fuel and hydraulic pipes to prevent them from coming in contact.