(NSI News Source Info) BENGALURU, India - May 20, 2010: The official first flight of India’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is set for May 23. Designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the light chopper had its unofficial first flight on March 29. Since then, HAL’s Helicopter Complex has test flown the chopper as many as 20 times to check various flight parameters. The LCH is based on the Dhruv platform and features a glass cockpit. HAL Chairman Ashok Nayak told AVIATION WEEK that the “designers, engineers and pilots are extremely happy with the performance so far. We are confident of flying the second prototype of LCH in August or September this year.” Several other aircraft will precede the LCH during the event. According to insiders, the Intermediate Jet Trainer Sitara from the limited series production (LSP) block will be first to fly, followed by the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas LSP-3. “Then the Hawk [trainer] built from the raw material phase at HAL will grace the skies followed by an upgraded Dornier with glass cockpit,” an official coordinating the show says. “The first Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv from the 159 order block [105 Army, 54 IAF] will be next in line, and finally the baby of the moment, LCH, will enter.” The Indian air force’s aerobatic helicopter display team Sarang (formed by Dhruv helicopters) has been summoned from Sulur air base to escort LCH in formation. The LCH will be piloted by Wing Cmdr. (ret.) Unni Pillai, HAL’s chief rotary wing test pilot, with Group Capt. (ret.) Hari Nair as co-pilot. Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony is leading a group of top officials who will observe the first flight at HAL’s military air base here in Bengaluru. “The Su-30 MKI was to perform some aerobatics as per the initial plan, then the idea was dropped owing to air safety concerns considering the thick population in and around HAL airport,” a source says. “Now it will be on a static display only.” The LCH team is expected to perform some limited maneuvers during the flight.
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