HAL’s Light Utility copter clears 6-km altitude flight

HAL’s Light Utility copter clears 6-km altitude flight

 Indigenously designed and developed by state-owned aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) achieved an important milestone of flying at a 6-km altitude here recently.

The chopper was flown by Chief Test Pilot Wg Cdr (Retd) Unni K Pillai and Test Pilot, Wing Cdr (Retd) Anil Bhambhani. The flight was carried out under the envelope expansion tests. A HAL statement said flying at the 6-km altitude is a critical requirement towards the certification of LUH. “The helicopter exhibited satisfactory performance and handling qualities,” it said.

With the completion of this milestone, LUH is now prepared to undertake high-altitude cold weather trials, scheduled for January 2019.

The LUH is a three-ton class new generation helicopter designed and developed by the Rotary Wing Research and Design Center (RWR&DC) of HAL. The aircraft is set to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters used by the Indian Armed Forces.

The first flight of LUH PT-1 was carried out on September 6, 2016. The second prototype flew on May 22, 2017. HAL has in-principle order for 187 LUH from the armed forces. These include 126 helicopters for the Indian Army and 61 for the Indian Air Force.

The LUH is being indigenously developed by HAL to meet the requirements of both military and civil operators. The helicopter, with a glass cockpit, can be deployed for reconnaissance and surveillance roles. It can also double up as a light transport helicopter.

The helicopter will be capable of flying at 220 kmph, with a service ceiling of 6.5 km and a range of 350 km, and with a payload of 400 kg. The LUH is powered by TM/HAL Ardiden 1U/Shakti 1U single turbo shaft engine with sufficient power margins to cater to demanding high-altitude missions, according to HAL.