India-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) new light utility helicopter (LUH) has completed a 6km altitude flight as part of envelope expansion tests.

Carried out by HAL test pilots in the Indian city of Bengaluru, the LUH’s flight marks a crucial milestone and moves the helicopter towards achieving certification.

During testing, the LUH demonstrated ‘satisfactory performance and handling qualities’, noted HAL.

The locally developed LUH will now enter high-altitude cold weather trials, which are scheduled to take place in January.

Weighing 3t, the aircraft has been designed by HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Design Center (RWR&DC) to meet the requirements of both military and civil operators.

“HAL already has principal orders in place for a total of 187 LUHs, which comprises 126 units for the Indian Army and 61 for the Indian Air Force.”

It is being developed to replace the fleet of ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are currently in service with the Indian Armed Forces.

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Powered by TM/HAL Ardiden 1U/Shakti 1U single turboshaft engine, the LUH has a range of 350km with 400kg payload, a service ceiling 6.5km, and a seating capacity of six passengers with two pilots.

The helicopter features a glass cockpit and can fly at a speed of 220kmph. It can operate as a light transport helicopter and carry out utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and rescue operations.

HAL already has principal orders in place for a total of 187 LUHs, which comprises 126 units for the Indian Army and 61 for the Indian Air Force.

In September 2016, HAL LUH PT-1 conducted a technical flight. The second prototype PT-2 performed its maiden flight on 22 May 2017.