First flight of LCA NP-1 delayed

Express News Service , The New Indian Express

It’s official The undercarriage of the naval version (Naval Prototype NP-1) of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is bulky by 400-500 kg. The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which are jointly developing NP-1, is burning the midnight oil to iron out what they call “nagging developmental issues”.

NP-1 is a trainer with tandem seating and NP-2 will be a singleseat fighter

Insiders associated with the programme attributed the delay in NP-1’s first flight to the undercarriage, built by HAL. “In September 2010, we observed that the undercarriage was over-sized. During traction-retraction and the undercarriage’s incorporation into the fuselage, there were many surprises awaiting us.

This is a very critical piece with the hitting impact on the ship going to be much higher,” an official with HAL’s Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) said. The official said the issues related to the arrestor hook, landing gear and LEVCONs (control surfaces which allow better low-speed handling) were being addressed completely. With the Naval Project Team (NPT) monitoring every bit of the NP-I closely, the official told Express that all future aircraft in the naval programme would come with a new undercarriage.

In September, NP-1 had successfully completed the engine ground run (EGR) and the taxi trials are set to begin soon “We will fly the NP-I with the same undercarriage making some slight corrections.

If a smaller undercarriage has to be integrated now, it will delay the programme further. Young boys are putting their hearts out and working seven days a week

Making planes are not child’s play,” he added. Sources at ADA say efforts are in full swing to make the NP-1 fly ahead of Navy Day (December 4). Captain Maolankar of National Flight Test Centre is likely to fly the NP-1 on its maiden flight.

During the roll-out of the NP-1 on July 6, 2010, an excited Defence Minister A K Antony had announced that he was confident that the ADA-HAL-Navy team would make it fly by December end (2010). “It will be the best New Year gift to the nation,” Antony had said then. With yet another New Year throttling down for a landing, it is left to be seen whether Team NP-1 can gift Antony an X’mas gift in the form of a first flight.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Oct 28 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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