After demonstrating ten spins on August 4, and completing night sorties over the last couple of days, the HTT-40 (Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40) trainer aircraft, that has been built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, is ready for certification clearances.
Senior officials at HAL said night sorties of the aircraft were carried out on August 31 and September 1. “We are done with spin and entire certification testing. Now, we will be going ahead with the process of certification clearances,” the official added.
Intended to replace the HPT-32 (Hindustan Piston Trainer), the HTT-40 is a basic training aircraft developed for the first stage of the training of rookie pilots in the Indian Air Force. In stage two, they graduate to flying the Kiran Mark II trainer jet while the third stage involves training on the Hawk advanced trainer aircraft.
Sources said the aircraft would cost around Rs 50 crore and HAL has invested over Rs 600 crore to develop it.
Initially, delays in the development of the aircraft had resulted in the IAF placing orders for procurement of 75 foreign-made Pilatus PC-7 Mk II turboprop trainers to meet its requirements in 2012. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2015 chose to buy 38 Pilatus aircraft from the Swiss maker with the remaining 68 to be sourced from HAL.
However, in 2019, the MoD suspended business dealings with the Swiss manufacturer owing to a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into alleged irregularities in the procurement order for the aircraft.
In 2015, HAL had completed designing the HTT-40 and the following year, the first prototype flew in presence of the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar.
During Aero India 2021, HAL received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the IAF for 70 aircraft with additional clauses for 38 more.
The certification clearances for the HTT-40 will be given against the Program Compliance and Quality Review (PCQR) protocols following which, the production will take place at HAL’s manufacturing units at Bengaluru and Nashik.
HAL’s basic trainer will have more than 60 per cent indigenous content and is supported by agencies such as the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), and the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) among others
In 2019, HAL stated that the HTT 40 has completed all major test points and meets the Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) issued by the air headquarters for the Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) program. It had also completed stalls, engine relights, inverted flying, acrobatic flying and systems testing.
On November 14, 2019, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria undertook his maiden flight in the HTT 40. During the sortie, he assessed flying characteristics of the aircraft including stall and spin capabilities.
The Defence Ministry in 2020 cleared the purchase of 106 HTT-40 aircraft from HAL.
“The negotiations are going on and hopefully by the end of the year, the ball will set rolling. We got the RfP from the IAF during the Aero Show and after that, the proposal was submitted. The next process is negotiation and audit. Hopefully, by the end of the financial year, we will sign the contract,” a senior HAL official said.
The turbo trainer aircraft, with tandem seating, will be used for basic flying training, including aerobatics, instrument flying, navigation, close formation and night flying.
Having a top speed of 450 km/hr, the aircraft will have the technical parameters of modern aircraft systems like Full Authority Digital Engine Control with zero-zero ejection seats and multifunction displays. One of the features of the aircraft is that it has a high rate of climb and can take off from short distances. The aircraft can fly a maximum distance of 1,000 kilometres.