The Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), designed and developed by HAL for stage–II training of IAF pilots has successfully demonstrated the capability to carry out six turn spins to the LH and RH sides. The aircraft was piloted by Gp. Capt HV Thakur (Retd) and Gp. Capt A Menon (Retd).
Given the right resources and backing, HAL is capable of designing products that can meet any requirement of Indian Armed Forces, says CMD, R Madhavan. Director (Engineering and R&D), Arup Chatterjee added that by demonstrating its capability to have six turn spins on both sides the IJT has achieved a major milestone. He attributed the success to the synergy between designers, flight operations and certifying agencies (RCMA and DGAQA). He further hoped that with the completion of spin certification of HTT-40 and the progress achieved in IJT, HAL will soon have the state-of-the-art trainers for stage I and II training of IAF pilots.
The IJT which was conceived by HAL as a replacement to the ageing Kirans of IAF fleet, had completed demonstration of its capabilities in terms of altitude and speed envelope, load factor, satisfactory stall characteristics and limited armament capability as required by IAF, much earlier. The only pending task was spin testing. During the course of spin testing, in 2016, the aircraft departed from controlled flight which brought the programme to a temporary halt. However, HAL decided to proceed further using its internal resources to complete the critical Spin testing.
The capability to enter and recover from spin is a necessity for a trainer aircraft in order to familiarise the trainee pilot to recognise departure from controlled flight and the actions required to recover from such situations. Achieving satisfactory characteristics during spin and an assured recovery from spin form a part of very crucial flight tests due to its unpredictability.
The spin flight testing is inherently a high-risk manoeuvre and therefore progresses incrementally turn by turn. Due to the complex interplay of aerodynamic and inertia forces, the motion of the aircraft in spin is unpredictable and flight testing is the only way to assess the acceptability or otherwise of its characteristics. The spin flights are carried out in good weather conditions with a team of designers, flight test engineers and safety pilot monitoring the various parameters during the flight and therefore time consuming. Several flight tests are required to be carried out before 6-turn spin flights are undertaken as well as a number of flights are further required before full spin certification is achieved.
Subsequent to the temporary halting of flight tests in 2016, HAL undertook modifications like shifting the vertical tail aft on the airframe and increasing the rudder area and flight testing resumed in April 2019. These modifications entailed the use of a new Anti-Spin Parachute system (ASPS) which is mandated for the safety of the aircraft and test crew during spin flight testing. The new ASPS was integrated into the aircraft in July 2020 and the successful streaming of the parachutes were demonstrated in September 2020. Despite the delays due to COVID-19 pandemic, HAL could commence the stall and spin testing of the IJT in its new modified configuration in November 2020.
Wg Cdr M Patel (Retd) was the test director and Gp Capt. K K Venugopal (Retd) was the safety pilot in command at telemetry.