TAI Draws Accolades at Farnborough International Air Show 2014
The Farnborough International Air show ranks as one of the industry's biggest sales and technology showcases, and for the first time at this year's show, TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc.) displayed its ANKA UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and the T129 "ATAK" Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter. The displays were located in the static display area of the show. This was also the first time that TAI provided a corporate chalet for its visitors. The TAI premises featured three meeting rooms as well as hospitality and dining areas, in covered quarters measuring 160 m2, plus a 75 m2 spectators location reserved for viewing flight displays. There was a large turnout at the TAI chalet during the event, which took place near London between the dates of 14 and 20 July. 2014. Representatives from TAI met with several interested parties, notably concerning the T129 "ATAK" helicopter, as well as the "ANKA" UAV, the "HÜRKUŞ'' basic trainer aircraft and the company's space and satellite systems. Additionally, TAI representatives held talks with company officials from Rolls-Royce, Northrop Grumman. GE Aviation. Sikorsky. Honeywell and Airbus Defence and Space, concerning forward-looking business opportunities and ongoing projects. Some of the international dignitaries who visited the TAI chalet include Air Vice Marshal of the Nigerian Air Force. Pakistan Minister of Defence Production. Kingdom of Bahrain Minister of Transportation, and Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for United Kingdom. On day one and day two of the show, several Turkish dignitaries visited the TAI chalet, including Prof. İsmail Demir, Undersecretary for Defence Industries, who was accompanied by his team, Temel Kotil, general manager of Turkish Airlines. Hamdi Topçu. chairman of the board of Turkish Airlines, and Hayrettin Uzun. past chairman of the board of TSKGV (Turkish Armed Forces Foundation).
This was the first exhibition of the T129 ATAK helicopter in Europe following its appearance at the Bahrein International Air show. It was a focus of interest for the attendees at Farnborough and the T129 held flight displays for three days from July 14 through July 16.
Preparations for T129 ATAK flight displays began two months prior to the show
Following the flight displays, I met with the T129 test pilots Arif Ateş and Gökhan Korkmaztürk to discuss those flights as well as the prep work they had to complete prior to the flights, and the process of gaining admittance into the air show schedule. Arif Ateş mentioned that there is more to the process of obtaining permission to perform at the air show than meets the eye, and that it is very intense process. He shared with me little known facts about the admission process: "We began training for the flight displays approximately eight weeks ahead of time. The Flying Control Committee for the Farnborough Air Show was informed of the names of those who would be conducting the flights and aircraft details, airworthiness certificates for the aircraft, and licenses and health checks for the pilots in question were all relayed to committee as well. The committee's approval is required for everything and therefore, the related correspondence with them was initiated eight weeks prior to the event. With the collaboration of the committee, we decided on our flying display sequences and we trained for those sequences through practice sessions at home. A week before the show, we presented a final rehearsal to the Flying Control Committee. Upon receiving our validation following completion of all necessary procedures, we successfully executed our flying displays on three days between 14 and 16 July."
Intense teamwork precedes flying displays
The other T-129 ATAK helicopter test pilot Gökhan Korkmaztürk added that they had daily preparatory routines for the flight displays which they followed, and informed the Flying Control Committee of all of their sequences. He added: "Every move in the flight is executed per a plan agreed on by the team. We conduct a detailed preparation and perform rehearsals. We decide whether the flight display rises to the occasion in terms of the effect it achieves, whether it strains the helicopter and, in the end, if the effort is worth doing. Based on the results, we inform the authorities of our flight display profiles. At the Farnborough Air Show, we advised the Flying Control Committee of all of our profiles ahead of time." Korkmaztürk said that the T129 ATAK helicopter, at its core, is an assault aircraft, and highlighting capabilities related to its assault role is not altogether possible at an air show. He said "Therefore, we instead demonstrate the maneuverability of the helo. We put the helicopter through almost all of the sequences that it would experience at the battle field, as well as during peace time operations. There are certain extreme aerobatics that would not be required on the battle field. At an air show, these are nevertheless displayed to demonstrate the agility of the aircraft."
T129 ATAK - Uncanny combination of power and performance
Test pilot Arif Ateş expanded on the little known aspects of the maneuvers and choreographed aerobatics which the team executes. He emphasized that the performance of the aircraft is just as important as the engine power it possesses. He said: "To demonstrate the performance of the T129 ATAK helicopter, we position ourselves at a high altitude and execute vertical ascends. For any type of helicopter, this is a show of that aircraft's performance and power. It is a demonstration of that craft's speed in executing a vertical ascend. The ensuing maneuvers display the helo's descend, roll and climb capabilities. The vertical climb is followed by a vertical descend, where we may reach a descend angle of 90°. This is followed by the so called high-speed maneuver, which displays the rate of speeds that the helicopter is capable of attaining. The next maneuver is the vertical climb where we may reach an angle of 80°. These are followed by hover turns, which demonstrate the performance of the tail rotor, and sideward flight, which demonstrates the helo's capability for T129 ATAK Test Pilots Arif Ateş and Gökhan Korkmaztürk lateral movement. Finally, we have a maneuver that is specific to the T129 ATAK; we take off backwards, then end our flight display with a descend."
During flight displays, helicopters are not allowed to descend below 100 feet above ground
Due to the risks associated with accidents at air shows, the Farnborough Flying Control Committee imposes certain limitations on the flights performed. There are strict limitations and rules for flight displays conducted at the air show. While aircraft strive to push the envelope to display their performance, behind the scenes, a rigorous effort is underway as well, to maintain safety. Briefings are held daily that bring together flight teams. Each day, the Flying Control Committee provides briefings to the teams that will be performing flight displays that day, to issues cautionary warnings. The instructions are clear: "Do not attempt any flight sequences other than those which you have rehearsed to the committee and for which you have been validated." Crowd and other aircraft separation distances must always observed by flight displays. For helicopters, the minimum flight altitude is 100 feet above ground, below which they are not allowed to descend. The committee is actively present along the runways during flight displays, and has the authority to stop the displays whenever they deem that an unsafe situation and/or maneuver is present.
Engine power and high performance differentiate T129 ATAK from its competition
Without a doubt, the toughest geographical conditions an assault helicopter may face are high altitudes and high temperatures. During the drafting of the specifications for the T129 Atak copter, the Turkish Land Forces called for the aircraft to be able to perform at 6,000 feet and at temperate of 30° Celcius. Based on the feasibility studies conducted, the engine requirements for the T129 was modified and it was decided to fit the helicopter with the more powerful LHTEC (Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company) CTS800-4A turboshaft twin engines, each capable of 1,360 horsepower. Currently, the T129 ATAK is ranked as one of the most powerful helicopters in the world, based on the ratio of engine power to load lift capability. The T129 ATAK's maximum take-off weight is 5,000 kg and has a range of 556 km, with a top speed of 288 km/h. Thanks to its powerful engines and high maneuverability, the T129 ATAK's high performance puts it a step ahead of its rivals. A digital cockpit that reduces pilot workload and the platform's ability to allow the integration of advanced weapon systems such the 2.27 inch laser-guided "Cirit" missile and the long-range anti-tank missile "Mizrak-U", make T129 ATAK one of the most advanced helicopters available today.