HAL’s LUH helicopter clears altitude test in Himalayas

Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). (DH Photo)

The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) designed and developed by State-owned aviation major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has successfully demonstrated high altitude capability in hot and high weather conditions in the Himalayas.

The trials were carried out by the test pilots from HAL, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Army from August 24 to September 2, 2019.

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 R Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director, HAL.

All planned tests were successfully demonstrated. “A comprehensive test plan was executed at Leh (3300m) in temperatures up to International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) +32 degree C which included envelope expansion, performance and flying qualities,” HAL said in an official statement.

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. This was 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 statement said.

The helicopter embarked on a 3000km flight from Bengaluru to Leh over a period of three days traversing many civil and military airfields. 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, IAF and the Army. Representatives of Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and ORDAQA witnessed the trials for military and civil certification requirements respectively.

The flights were completed by a 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.

The LUH had 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.

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