LCH makes maiden flight with Indigenous AFCS

Giving further thrust to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has carried out the first flight of Light Combat Helicopter (LCH, Technology Demonstrator-2) with its own designed and developed Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) for the first time in the country.

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HAL described the maiden flight of LCH as “flawless.” The helicopter flew for 20 minutes with the engagement of the AFCS system throughout. HAL Photo

The development of indigenous AFCS is a HAL-funded project and will replace the high value imported system, said T. Suvarna Raju, HAL’s chief managing director.

The AFCS is a digital four-axis flight control system capable of performing control and stability augmentation function and auto-pilot modes of helicopters. The indigenous development of the hardware, software and control law is a fully in-house effort of HAL R&D Centers — RWR&DC and MCSRDC at Bengaluru; SLRDC at Hyderabad; and Korwa Division.

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Retired Wing Commander Unni K Pillai, chief test pilot, and retired Group Captain Rajesh Verma, test pilot, were on the controls of LCH. Representatives from certification agencies and senior officers from HAL were present.

HAL has already indigenized the cockpit display system on LCH — namely the Integrated Architecture Display System (IADS) with the participation of Indian private industries. Development flight testing is under progress.

The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for LCH was accorded on Aug. 26, 2017 in the presence of the defense minister.

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