Light Utility Helicopter clears high weather tests in Himalayas

The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has successfully demonstrated high altitude capability in hot and high weather conditions in the Himalayas. The trials were carried out by test pilots from HAL, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Army from Aug. 24 to Sept. 2, 2019.

A comprehensive test plan for the LUH was executed at Leh in the Himalayas in temperatures up to International Standard Atmosphere 90 F. HAL Photo

The LUH has complied with all the requirements of the users, and with the completion of hot and high altitude testing, it is close to operational clearance certification, said R Madhavan, CMD, HAL.

All planned tests were successfully demonstrated. A comprehensive test plan was executed at Leh in the Himalayas (3,300 meters/10,826 feet) in temperatures up to International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) 32 C (90 F), which included envelope expansion, performance and flying qualities. The LUH then lifted off from Leh and demonstrated its hot and high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at 5,000 meters (16,404 ft) followed by another forward helipad (5,500 meters/18,044 ft at ISA 27 C/80 F).

While these extreme weather conditions imposed flight restrictions on all other civil and military aircraft, LUH flights were unhindered as the aircraft is designed for such operations.

The helicopter embarked on a 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) flight from Bengaluru to Leh over a period of three days traversing many civil and military airfields. During the course of ferrying and trials at high altitude, the chopper revealed high reliability without any service support.


The composite trials team included designers, flight test crew of HAL, the Indian Air Force and Indian Army. Representatives of CEMILAC and ORDAQA witnessed the trials for military and civil certification requirements respectively.

The flights were completed by a HAL flight test team led by retired wing commander Unni Pillai, CTP(RW) and accompanied by retired wing commander Anil Bhambani, retired group captain Pupinder Singh, Group Capt V Panwar, Wg Cdr A Jena, a representative from the Air Force Group Capt R Dubey and LCol R Grewal from the Indian Army.

The LUH completed hot weather trials at Nagpur in 2018, cold weather trials at Leh in 2019, sea level trials at Chennai in 2018 and at Puducherry in 2019.

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