A successful extreme cold weather trial has been conducted by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) on its LCA-Tejas, a tailless light fighter with a delta wing design powered by a single engine.
“The aircraft made three consecutive starts using an indigenous gas turbine starter at -15°C with 85% charged battery. Prior to the start, the aircraft was cold soaked for 18-20 hours outside the hangar in Leh, [high on the Indian Himalayan range] with no heating source for starting,” explained T. Suvarna Raju, chairman, 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 above Leh.
The gas turbine starter unit 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 trial with a modified starting schedule conducted at Leh (at an altitude of 3,260m) in July and August 2014. During this period HAL also successfully demonstrated the start capability of the fighter at an altitude of 5,600m.