BANGALORE: State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Tuesday conducted a maiden test flight of its prototype Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) here.
“The 15-minute flight by our test pilots marks the beginning of prototype testing of the third helicopter after Advanced Light Helicopter and Light Combat Helicopter,” it said in a statement here.
The 3.2-tonne chopper is set to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army and will also be sold to civil operators.
Fitted with Safran engine, the six-seater twin piloted LUH has 350km range flying non-stop at a speed of 220km per hour, with 400kg payload.
“The LUH is designed for multi-utility roles, including reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and rescue operations,” the statement said.
The new generation helicopter can also operate from sea level to high altitudes of Himalayas. Operational clearance for its basic version is expected in this fiscal.
The HAL will manufacture LUH and undertake its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) at its new facility near Tumakuru, about 100km from here.
The public sector enterprise has also tied up with the French aerospace major Safran in July to set up a MRO for the helicopter engines at the new facility.