February 19, 2014 by Shiv Aroor - Livefist
The HJT-36 Sitara intermediate jet trainer hasn't obtained initial operational clearance (IOC) yet, but a statement was submitted in Parliament today providing some fresh timelines. Here it is in full:
[The] Development of IJT is in the advanced stages of certification with more than 800 test flights completed so far. The activities are progressing well with completion of Sea level trials, night flying trials, high altitude trials as well as weapon and drop tank trials. The activities left for obtaining Final Operational Clearance (FOC) are the refinement of stall characteristics and spin testing which will be commenced as soon as stall characteristics are refined.
The project was sanctioned in 1999 and the first and second prototypes flew in March 2003 and in March 2004 respectively. The prototypes were initially flight tested with the LARZAC Engines from SNECMA. To meet technical parameters, a high powered engine AL-55I from Russian was selected based on a global tender. Due to developmental issues in Russia, flight-worthy Engines were supplied to HAL in January, 2009 against the contractual schedule of January, 2007. Flights with these Engines commenced in May, 2009 after resolution of Engine-Aircraft interface issues with the Russians.
The Progress of project was affected due to loss of prototype during flight testing which necessitated major changes like total redesign of flight control system and associated increased number of design iteration for recovery and resolution. All efforts are being made to achieve FOC by December 2014. Production of aircraft will commence immediately [thereafter].