KAVERI UPDATE: Critical Flight Tests On IL-76 Testbed This October

The Indian government today provided a comprehensive update on the indigenous Kaveri turbofan programme. Here it is, in full:

(i) All major engine sub-assemblies have been tested for aerodynamic performance and structural integrity (life & safety) requirements from qualification point of view. (ii) Critical sub-systems have been developed. (iii) Full authority Kaveri Digital engine Control System (KADECS) has been designed and developed. (iv) Various critical technologies in the fields of instrumentation/measurement, health monitoring, data acquisition, etc. have been developed. (v) Twelve materials (Titanium, Steel and super alloys) have been developed and type certified. (vi) Directionally Solidified (DS) casting technology and high temperature tip brazing technology for the High Pressure and Low Pressure turbine blades & vanes have been developed. (vii) Adequate manufacturing technology base has been established.

The reasons for the delay in developing the said engine are as follows:

(i) Non-availability of critical materials, viz., nickel and titanium based alloys in the country. (ii) Low priority from foreign manufacturing agencies in view of the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) vis-à-vis the production order quantity from other engine houses. (iii) Lack of manufacturing infrastructure for critical components. (iv) Flying Test Bed (FTB) trials were not originally envisaged but included subsequently, based on the recommendations of Certification Agency and IAF. (v) US sanctions imposed during 1998 affected the delivery of critical systems & components. (vi) Lack of infrastructure of engine testing and component / system level testing within the country leading to dependency on foreign agencies.

Kaveri engine testing under simulated altitude and forward speed conditions during February 2010 has been successfully completed. Another engine has been integrated with IL-76 aircraft at Gromov Flight Research Institute (GFRI), Moscow for ground and flight test which is expected to complete by October 2010 (sic). These two major milestones would make 'Kaveri' engine certified for flight operations. Productions of LCAs are, meanwhile, as decided by user, being fitted with imported engines.

Kaveri Photo by Shiv Aroor

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