India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas crossed a major milestone on Sunday when the final limited series production (LSP) variant took to the skies on its maiden flight. The LSP-8 is the 13th aircraft joining the Tejas flight line in 12 years.
Sources told Express on Sunday night that Tejas had a 25-minute flight with two key parameters tested as part of the initial operational clearance (IOC). “The Tejas achieved Alpha 20 (angle of attack) and touched supersonic speeds. The flight is significant considering that LSP-8 is the final configuration of Tejas, set to get on to the production mode,” sources said.
Air Cmde K A Muthana, head of National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), piloted the aircraft.
In a release, HAL said the first flight was flawless. “With this, the IOC for Tejas can be expected soon. The aircraft with a build standard akin to the IOC underwent a series of rigorous checks by the certifying and inspecting agencies during the last fortnight with a few taxi checks to assess the aircraft performance. The flight clearance by the certifying agencies was accorded today (Sunday) for the aircraft after ensuring that all the aircraft systems were functioning satisfactorily on ground.”
“Till now, the aircraft would normally undergo high speed taxi trials prior to the first flight. However, with the confidence gained by the flight crew and the certifying agencies during the build and ground checks a decision was taken to proceed with the first flight without going through a separate high speed taxi trial,” the release said.
Aircraft systems related to fuel, environment condition, electrical and avionics which had undergone a series of modifications based on feedback from earlier aircraft functioned well, the release added.