In a major step for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a prototype has just completed high altitude flight trials at the world’s highest landing ground — Daulat Beg Olde in northern Ladakh.
In a statement today HAL said, “All planned tests were successfully demonstrated. A comprehensive test plan was executed at Leh (3300m) in temperatures upto International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) +32 degree C which included envelope expansion, performance and flying qualities. The LUH then lifted off from Leh and demonstrated its hot and high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at 5000m followed by another forward helipad (5500m at ISA +27degree C). While these extreme weather conditions imposed flight restrictions on all other civil and military aircraft, LUH flights were unhindered as it is designed for such operations.”
The trials were carried out by HAL, Army and IAF test pilots from August 24 to September 2. The crucial high altitude capability demonstration is indispensable to Indian rotorcraft requirements, since large numbers are deployed in Ladakh and the north-east to supply forward posts along the borders.
“The LUH has complied with all the requirements of the users and with the completion of hot and high altitude testing, it is close to operational clearance certification,” said HAL chairman R Madhavan today.
The LUH involved in the Ladakh trials hopped from Bengaluru, its home, to Leh over a period of three days. stopping at several civil and military airfields along the way. According to HAL, during the course of ferrying and trials at high altitude, the chopper revealed high reliability without any service support.
“The composite trials team included designers, flight test crew of HAL, the Indian Air Force and Indian Army. Representatives of CEMILAC and ORDAQA witnessed the trials for military and civil certification requirements respectively. The flights were completed by an HAL flight test team led by Wg Cdr (Retd) Unni Pillai, CTP(RW) and accompanied by Wg Cdr (Retd) Anil Bhambani, Gp Capt (Retd) Pupinder Singh, Gp Capt V Panwar, Wg Cdr A Jena, a representative from the Air Force Gp Capt R Dubey and Lt Col R Grewal from the Indian Army,” said the HAL statement.
The LUH, incidentally, completed hot weather trials at Nagpur in 2018, cold weather trials at Leh in 2019, sea level trials at Chennai in 2018 and at Puducherry in 2019. The LUH is being developed to meet a requirement of 187 helicopters for the Indian Air Force and Indian Army, approximately half of the total requirement, the remainder of which will be met by 200 Ka-226T helicopters that are to be built by the HAL-Kamov joint venture in Tumkuru near Bengaluru.