The LCA Navy NP1’s carrier compatibility test off the ski-jump in Goa last month yielded masses of valuable data for a team that hasn’t been able to put the aircraft into the air even a fraction of the number of times it would have liked to by now. But while there was plenty to be at least somewhat cheered about, there were two major areas that the flight drew attention to. Two areas the team is focusing on fixing with all its resources:
1. The Control Law and Flight Control System (FCS) Software needs additional coding and updating to handle the higher performance of the platform. “This will enable extracting the best performance of the aircraft in a safe manner as the margins are progressively reduced,” say sources on the team.
2. The second take-away was mechanical, and just as crucial: the NP1’s nose landing gear extension routine was faster than predicted or expected. Sources on the team confirm that, “Minor modifications to the nose landing gear are in progress and would be available on the aircraft by end Jan 15.”
3. Another lesson learned, according to team sources, is that design teams will need to be “even more pragmatic in keeping margins as excess reserves get compounded and could lead to load exceedence.”
4. The team is also considering excessive airspeed to be something to look out for. “While on first appearances, excessive airspeed appears to be harmless, it could aggravate aircraft control problems if flight control failures are encountered,” team sources said.
Once the 2 tangible fixes are complete, and operating procedures on the other two are in place, the scene shifts back to Goa in March for more ski jump flights, where the flight test team will work towards reducing margins to arrive at final performance levels — the first final, or close to final operating parameters of the LCA Navy. “Also, it is planned to initiate activities towards arrested recovery starting with dummy approaches on the landing area, ‘taxi-in’ arrester hook engagements on to the arrester wire at the SBTF and final flight engagement,” say team sources.
Questions have been raised over whether ‘surprise’ angle of attack and climb performance actually demonstrated problems with simulation studies, team sources said, “Extensive simulations had been made to predict landing gear loads and the behaviour of all other systems during the ski jump launch. The aircraft was extensively instrumented to enable validation of simulation. The landing gear loads and other system behaviour obtained from the actual ski jump launch were close to prediction.”
Series concludes tomorrow with Part 3: The LCA Navy Mk.2