Flight trials begin for Tejas MK-1A: HAL

Jinen Gada

30 Jul 2022

The maiden flight trials of the LCA Tejas MK-1A (Light Combat Aircraft Mark-1A) have been started from the first week of May, said sources in the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) associated with the project. LCA Mk-1A is an upgraded version of the LCA Mk-1. LCA Mk-1 reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2020.

The LCA Tejas is a fly-by-wire (FBW) fighter with the ability to refuel in the air. It has a glass cockpit and a satellite-assisted inertial navigation system, making it a fourth-generation fighter.

HAL will try to deliver all 10 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas aircraft by this year.

It can transport air-to-ground bombs and attack systems that can be used to strike targets on land or at sea. It’s a supersonic combat jet with a 50,000-foot service ceiling. Its wingspan is 8.20 meters, its length is 13.20 meters, and its height is 4.40 meters.

HAL had earlier agreed to pay USD 716 million to GE Aviation for 99 F404 aircraft engines and related services to power the indigenous Tejas LCA Mk-1A. Furthermore, it is now developing its indigenous engine, which will be used to power both Tejas and AMCA aircraft.

“We will be attempting at least 6-8 aircraft (LCA) this year. All 10 aircraft are already ready, there are some systems to be delivered from Israel. If that happens in time, we can deliver all 10. “By June this year we should start flying the LCA MK-1A configuration. Once flying starts, we have about 20 to 24 months of testing. Once that is done, we will be ready for deliveries as expected.”R. Madhavan, Chief Managing Director, HAL.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) expects to deliver all Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2022 while the LCA MK-1A, with specific enhancements, will take flight by the middle of this year, said R. Madhavan, Chief Managing Director, HAL.

A larger aircraft LCA MK-2 to roll out by year-end or early 2023, says HAL MD.

Last February the Defence Ministry signed a ?48,000 crore deal with HAL to supply 83 LCA MK-1A to the IAF. HAL will be delivering the first three aircraft in 2024 and 16 aircraft per year for the subsequent five years, the Defence Ministry had stated earlier.

We will start manufacturing activities parallel with the testing, Mr. Madhavan said on the LCA MK-1A schedule. With COVID-19 cases surging again, there could be some delays if the work schedule is disrupted.

To ramp up production, HAL has already set up two additional assembly lines. Stating that all three LCA assembly lines are operational now, Mr. Madhavan said the back end of the lines is what they are finishing now including the supply of sub-assemblies by vendors.

ALSO READ - HAL may delay delivery of LCA TEJAS – blames escalating composites price

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Portions of 48 high-rise buildings near Mumbai International Airport to be demolished 

Jinen Gada

30 Jul 2022

 The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Mumbai Suburban District Collector to demolish 48 high-rise buildings near the Mumbai International Airport for violation of height norms. The HC order came in compliance with the orders of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik also pulled up the collector for trying to shift the responsibility of demolition to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and said the collector has to do something about this “menace” (obstacles near the airport).

The Bombay High Court asked the Mumbai Suburban District Collector to demolish 48 high-rise buildings near the Mumbai International Airport for violation of height norms.

The collector (suburbs), in response to a Bombay high court poser on obstacles to the city airport approach area on July 25 2022, said the BMC should carry out the demolition in Mumbai as it is the planning authority under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. The BMC pointed out that under the Aircraft Rules 1994, it is the collector’s responsibility.

The judges agreed and said the 1994 rules empower the district collector to remove obstructions. Friday’s HC instruction to the collector was passed after a 2019 PIL by advocate Yeshwanth Shenoy on the danger highrises near the airport pose to aircraft. Ironically, the Airports Authority of India’s guesthouse is among them.

The orange path is called the FUNNEL ZONE or APPROACH PATH.

It is an imaginary area that extends outwards and upwards conically from a runway end. The cone-shaped area must be free of obstacles for the safe passage of jets to/from a runway.

There are 48 obstacles in total. Most of them are in the funnel zone and can be divided into two categories. The first one includes the top portions of buildings in Vile parle (E) and Santacruz (W). And the second one includes Shanties houses built on top of hills in Kurla, Ghatkopar.

The illegal portion of most buildings is between 0.5-6 m high. Many are water tanks, TV antennas, iron pipes, hoardings, etc. On hilltops, entire shanties are illegal. Among them are the minar of a mosque in Kurla, a mosque and a temple in Narayan Nagar, Ghatkopar, shaties in Asalpha, huts and a mosque on JarinMari hill.

HC seeks a flight path demolition plan.

Other obstacles include a 4.2m portion of a footbridge in Sambhaji Nagar on WEH, apart from an antenna and a light on a hoarding. Parts of erstwhile Kingfisher House on the highway, including antenna and hoarding, are illegal. AAI Guest House at New Airport Colony, Vile Parle (East). It is 3.3m illegal, which means an entire floor.

The focus now is on the 48 structures that will be cut to size, but the PIL about the safety of aircraft has brought back nightmares for all residents who live under the shadow of flights operating from the airport. The HC has asked the BMC and the police to render necessary assistance to the Collector.

The court will pass appropriate orders about the other obstacles identified by the MIAL from 2010 till now after the reply affidavit of the Collector is filed on August 22.

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DGCA to hire 100-150 people over next 6-8 months for enhanced aviation safety surveillance

Jinen Gada

30 Jul 2022

Chief Executive Arun Kumar from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), says will hire 100-150 people over the next 6-8 months to bolster air safety oversight through night checks as India’s airline fleet expands.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has rolled out a surveillance mechanism to identify non–compliance with flight safety standards and alert the authorities concerned for taking urgent corrective action to resolve the deficiencies.

The air safety issue has come into focus over the past month after several incidents of technical glitches were reported at airlines including SpiceJet, GoFIRST, IndiGo, Air India, Vistara and Air India Express related to glitches.

The regulator regularly monitors Indian airlines through an annual monitoring plan.

Engine damage, windshield cracks, smoke in the cabin, and equipment malfunction among others. As part of the annual surveillance plan for 2022, the DGCA will carry out 3,700 checks.

Based on the violations found during surveillance, spot checks, and night surveillance carried out during 2021-22, enforcement action has been taken by DGCA against responsible personnel of an airline in 21 instances of violations.

The primary focus of the initiative is to find any significant non–compliance with the applicable requirement which lowers the safety standard and affects seriously the flight safety.

A total of 177 surveillances, 497 spot checks and 169-night surveillances were carried out by the DGCA.

Such deficiencies would be conveyed in a standardised “Deficiency Reporting Form” that would explain the issue and specify the reference of the regulatory provision against which the observation was made.

"Aircraft is a complex sturdy machine with lakhs of components and its usage is very rigorous. India has a very young fleet and their flight dispatch reliability is one of the best in the world. Once in a while, technical snags are possible and a standard operating procedure as per globally approved norms is followed in case of any technical snag.Passengers affected via flight diversions or delays won't be happy but safe navigation is our priority. As per last year's data, one aircraft sees 0.6 snags in a year. There may be 1-2 technical incidents in a day across 6,000 flight movements. A pilot has to be alert and attentive when it comes to any sign of technical snags. Many times, an indicator for a technical snag may be false but a pilot has to respond to that as well as per SOP. At DGCA, we want to say that business and safety are non-negotiable.”Arun Kumar, DGCA

The direction comes as the DGCA has made a detailed surveillance programme focusing on passengers’ safety. Organisations such as scheduled airlines, non-scheduled operators, aircraft maintenance firms, design and manufacturing organisations, flying training institutes, and maintenance training institutes have been included in the programme.

ALSO READ - DGCA finds insufficient aircraft engineers during spot checks amid rising technical snags

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All new aircraft to have a secondary Flight Deck barrier - FAA | Here's what we know


29 Jul 2022

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed requiring a second barrier to the flight deck on certain commercial airplanes.

Interestingly, the decision comes at a time when there has been an increase in unruly passenger incidents in the industry.

Representative | Business Insider

Flight crews keep us safe when we travel to visit loved ones, explore new places and conduct business. They, too, deserve to be protected, and this rulemaking is an important step forwardU.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg said

Apparently, the FAA was supposed to have adopted rules by 2019 under a 2018 federal law but said that procedural rules were to be followed before new regulations could be imposed.

Pete Buttigieg | Yahoo Finance

Last year, the Biden-Harris Administration put the secondary flight deck barrier on its priority rulemaking list. During 2019 and 2020, the FAA worked with aircraft manufacturers, labour partners and others to gather recommendations that are included in today’s proposal.

The Administrative Procedures Act requires FAA to follow the full rule-making process for this mandate that Congress included in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act.

From the vault- the cockpit door

The FAA mandated a new standard for cockpit doors just months after the 9/11 attacks in which terrorists took control of four commercial jetliners, in a move it said was made to better protect the cockpit from "intrusion and small arms fire or fragmentation devices, such as grenades.

The World Trade Center south tower (L) burst into flames after being struck by hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 as the north tower burns following an earlier attack by a hijacked airliner in New York City on September 11, 2001 | AARP

According to FAA estimates from 2002, the upgraded cockpit door would cost airlines between $12,000 and $17,000 each, or between $92.3 million and $120.7 million over 10 years. By April 2003, all airlines had completed the new FAA requirement to reinforce the flight deck doors on their entire fleets.

The cockpit systems today, keep the door locked unless opened by a pilot or requested by the flight attendant, which is often via a keypad on some jets, the Airbus A320 for instance- a request which can be denied by the flight crew inside. This is in contrast to before 9/11 when the flight deck door would lock but could typically be accessed by flight attendants with a key.

Representative | Business Insider

The proposed rule requires aircraft manufacturers to install a second physical barrier on airplanes produced after the rule goes into effect and is used in commercial passenger service in the United States.

The public has a 60-day window to comment on the proposed rule once it is published in the Federal Register following which, the final rule will be published by the FAA.


COVER: Fox Business

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IndiGo flight cancelled after plane skids off runway; No passengers injured

Jinen Gada

29 Jul 2022

An IndiGo flight from Jorhat in Assam to Kolkata skidded off the runway during take-off and a pair of its wheels got stuck in the muddy outfield.

The incident took place on Thursday when the aircraft was taxing out for take-off with 98 passengers on board and the flight was cancelled.

IndiGo plane skids off the Runway during Take-off, Wheel stuck in the mud.

After this incident, the aircraft was taken back to the bay at Jorhat for inspection. During the initial inspection, no abnormalities were observed. But, as a matter of caution, the maintenance team initiated a thorough inspection. However, the flight was cancelled.

An Airports Authority of India official told that the Indigo flight to Kolkata was cancelled after being held up for several hours at Jorhat due to a “technical issue”.

“IndiGo flight 6E-757 operating from Jorhat to Kolkata returned back to bay during departure. While taxiing out the pilot was advised that one of the main wheels had partially run over the grass adjacent to the taxiway. The pilot held the taxi procedure as a precaution and asked for necessary inspection.IndiGo said in a statement.

Earlier, a local journalist uploaded a picture on Twitter showing an aircraft, which apparently skidded off the runway and one pair of wheels got stuck in the soft grassy outfield.

"There was some technical issue with the aircraft. There were 98 passengers on board. All passengers deboarded and are safe. They waited in the terminal building and the flight was cancelled at around 8:15 pm."Official of AAI.

Tagging IndiGo, the scribe posted, "Guwahati Kolkata @indigo flight 6F 757 (6E757) slips from the runway and stuck in a muddy field in Jorhat airport in Assam. The flight was scheduled to depart at 2.20 pm but the flight was delayed after the incident."

The IndiGo flight was preparing to take off around 2:20 pm when the incident happened.

Nowadays, several untoward incidents related to IndiGo flights have happened at a time when many mid-air incidents are reported these days.

Recently, Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lok Sabha said in a written reply stated that a total of 478 technical snag-related occurrences were reported in planes between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

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AirAsia India fails to get an international permit; halts UDAN international

Radhika Bansal

29 Jul 2022

Tata group-owned AirAsia India's failure to get approval for international flights has hurt UDAN, the Indian government’s regional air connectivity project that also aims to link cities in Northeast India and Odisha to places abroad.

Sources said the civil aviation ministry is waiting for the low-cost airline to come under the full ownership of Tata Sons and become part of Air India, the former state-owned carrier now owned by the private conglomerate, before allowing it to operate international flights.

Tata owns an 84% stake in AirAsia India and it is understood that the group will complete the process of buying the rest of the stake by July’s end.

AirAsia India fails to get an international permit; halts UDAN international

According to the Airport Authority of India’s rules, an operator qualified as a 'designated airline' was eligible to bid for UDAN international routes in March. Under UDAN international, state governments offer 100% subsidies to airlines.

ALSO READ - AirAsia India receives approval for its first international flight in 8 years

AirAsia India won bids to operate flights on eight international routes, including destinations from Bhubaneswar, as it sought the lowest subsidy.

AirAsia India meets the condition of having 20 aircraft to fly internationally, but it has been unable to get approval as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a case against top executives of AirAsia Berhad, which holds a 14% stake in the airline, for allegedly lobbying the government for overseas flight permits and violating rules that prevent foreign carriers from controlling Indian operators.

The CBI, in 2018, booked AirAsia Berhad CEO Tony Fernandes along with others for allegedly trying to bribe government officials for easing rules for operating international flights.

The CBI, in 2018, booked AirAsia Berhad CEO Tony Fernandes, deputy CEO Bo Lingam, and former Tata Trust managing trustee R Venkataramanan for allegedly trying to bribe government officials for easing rules for operating international flights.

Sources said that AirAsia India, for UDAN international, has sought significantly lower subsidies than SpiceJet and IndiGo, which were the second- and third-lowest bidders. State governments want airlines to seek the lowest subsidy.

The first round of the international UDAN failed to generate much response as state governments were not amenable to bearing the subsidy burden.

AirAsia India, for UDAN international, has sought significantly lower subsidies than SpiceJet and IndiGo, which were the second- and third-lowest bidders.

“When the bidding was completed in March, AirAsia India already had 20 aircraft and was a designated airline of India which made it eligible to bid for the routes. However, the legal arm of the Ministry of Civil Aviation objected that the airline has not been permitted to operate flights on international routes and hence ineligible to operate the flights,” said a person aware of the development.

ALSO READ - Air India gets CCI’s approval to acquire the entire stake in AirAsia India

Tata group is merging AirAsia India into a subsidiary of Air India Express. It has approval from the anti-trust regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) and waiting for one from the National Company Law Tribunal.

Tata group is merging AirAsia India into a subsidiary of Air India Express.

Simultaneously, after acquiring an 84% stake in AirAsia India in 2020, the group is in the final stages of acquiring the remaining 16% stake.

“Legal approval was sought and it was decided that till the time AirAsia Berhad has any stake in the airline, it will not be permitted to operate international flights as there is an ongoing CBI investigation against the officials of the Malaysian parent."

"After it becomes a subsidiary of Air India group and Tata group owns 100% stake, it will be permitted for international flying,” a government official said.

The first round of the international UDAN failed to generate much response as state governments were not amenable to bearing the subsidy burden.

Assam, Odisha, Tripura, and Manipur participated in the international UDAN and offered to provide subsidies for connecting Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Agartala, and Imphal to multiple international destinations.

An official of the Odisha government said that the state was eager to start international flights but Air Asia India has not got the central government’s permission after winning the bid to operate flights from Bhubaneswar. “We are awaiting clarity from the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” the official said.

(With Inputs from Business Standard)