HAL has made successful extreme cold weather trials in Jan 2015 on LCA- Tejas at Leh. “The aircraft made three consecutive starts using indigenous gas turbine starter at -15 °C with 85% charged battery a few days ago. Prior to the start, the aircraft was cold soaked for 18-20 hours (even 42 hours on one occasion) outside the hangar in Leh and no heating source was used for starting”, says Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, Chairman, HAL.
This success is a feather in the cap of HAL. A team of more than 15 engineers and technicians from HAL worked to solve the peculiar requirement faced in starting a Gas Turbine Engine in the rarefied and cold atmospheres found at Leh.
The gas turbine starter unit of HAL used to start the engine for LCA has been designed, developed and manufactured by its Aero Engine Research and Design Centre (AERDC). The first success was the rig trials with a modified starting schedule conducted at Leh (3260 m altitude) in July and August 2014. During this period HAL also successfully demonstrated the start capability of its starter even at a high altitude of 5.6 km.
HAL received external support from Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), CEMILAC, DGAQA, IAF-PMT, NFTC and others for this mission.
(Text and photos by Ministry of Defence, New Delhi)