Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is looking to test fly Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) this week in Bengaluru, after overcoming a software issue that held back its first flight.
“We are now ready to take the chopper in the air. All hurdles have been crossed and now it is only a matter of the right day when all conditions are good for a first flight,” ET quoted a senior official involved in the project as saying.
The test flight will be a high point for HAL. It would register a crucial development in its fixed winged aircraft project. The prototype LUH has been in the works since 2008 and had cleared ground testing in 2015.
The three-tonne helicopter for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force will replace the fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. LUH uses Shakti engine, developed by collaborating with Turbomeca, a French engine maker.
HAL is upbeat on the possibility of LUH going into production by 2018, provided it gets necessary certifications and operational clearances. The aeronautical agency is also expected to set up a new production facility.
The Indian armed forces are in dire need of light choppers. Currently, over 200 helicopters are required. HAL is also working with the Russians on building 200 Kamov KA-226 light choppers in India.
In order to meet the urgent need, the armed forces have initiated a parallel process to acquire light choppers.