HAL reported the first flight of the indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) on 6th September. The helicopter lifted off at 12:10 local time at HAL facilities in Bengaluru and was in the air for 15 minutes. The flight — initially scheduled for mid-2015 — was carried out by HAL test pilots.
The LUH, which has a maximum All-Up-Weight (AUW) of 3,150kg, is equipped with a single Safran Helicopter Engines Ardiden-1U engine of 750kW. It has a range of 350km, a service ceiling of 6.5km, and seating capacity for six passengers plus two pilots. The helicopter is designed to carry out various utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and rescue operations. It can operate from sea level to high altitudes in the Himalayas.
The LUH is the third member of HAL’s rotorcraft family, after the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), a derivative of the twin-engine Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) which entered service in 2002. Apart from replacement of the ageing fleet of Cheetah/Chetak machines, HAL hopes that the LUH will capture a significant share of the domestic and international market.