The issue of safety is involved since the engine is supposed to be used in Light Combat Aircraft.
With French company Safran agreeing to help India revive its Kaveri combat jet engine project, a senior DRDO official said on Thursday they hope to fly the engine in the next Aero India. The issue of safety is involved since the engine is supposed to be used in Light Combat Aircraft, Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Aeronautical Systems Director General C.P. Narayanan told IANS on the sidelines of the Aero India 2017. “Safety is a concern if you are flying a single-engine aircraft; if it is a twin engine, there is no problem. Reliability and safety are foremost concerns. Now, someone has to audit this engine and say it is safe for flying.”
The Kaveri engine development project was sanctioned in March 1989 but dropped in 2014-15 after repeated failures. The project for an indigenous engine was helmed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) of DRDO for mastering one of the most complex technologies. Narayanan said assistance is required for defining the ‘flight envelop’ for the indigenous engine. “That envelop development related to safety is very critical, we are taking help now,” he said. A flight envelop describes its safe performance limits in regard to factors like minimum and maximum operating speeds and elevation.
He said an updated version of the engine will be developed, which will be called K9. “We have up to now K8 (prototype), now we are going to call it K9,” he said. On Tuesday, Defence Minsiter Manohar Parrikar said the Kaveri fighter engine project will be revived and that the DRDO is in discussions with Safran as part of offsets under the Rafale jet deal, inked between India and France in September 2016.
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha in December 2016, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre had called the effort of the GTRE in developing the engine as “an attempt to mastering one of the most complex technologies”. The minister said the altitude test and flying test bed trials for the engine had been completed and other developmental problems were being addressed to make the engine flight-worthy through in-house efforts as well with assistance from abroad.