Bengaluru: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd's (HAL's) Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), being produced since March 1999, had to be pulled out of the AeroIndia 2009 air Show being held at the Yelahanka Air Station here, after the prototype suffered an accident at the Air Base on Saturday. The IJT is supposed to replace the ageing Kiran aircraft that are flown by cadets training to be fighter pilots. The Indian Air Force (IAF) was scheduled to have received 150 IJTs from HAL in 2005-06.
HAL's chief test (fixed wing) pilot Squadron Leader Baldev Singh was in the IJT last Saturday with test pilot Wing Commander C Subramaniam, when the plane they had flown on a routine sortie - after landing - suddenly sat down on its belly when its undercarriage collapsed.
Earlier, in the 2007 Air Show, the IJT had another embarrassing accident when it was taxiing out for a demo, and a jet blast from another aircraft made the plane keel over on a wing. That time too, Baldev Singh was in the cockpit.
The IJT had its maiden flight in March 2003, but has not got an initial operational clearance yet. The project has overshot all cost and time lines. It is now being refitted with a Russian AL 551 engine.
But HAL has something to cheer about too. It has won its first export order for five Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) to Ecuador. The ALH is called Cobra in the export version and Dhruv in India. Talks are also on for its sale to Mauritius and Sri Lanka.