NEW DELHI—India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and French aerospace giant Safran have formed a joint venture (JV) company to establish a dedicated helicopter engine support center catering to customers in India and around the world.
“The JV will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul [MRO] services for Safran TM333 2B2 and HAL Shakti engines installed on HAL-built helicopters operated by the Indian defense services,” HAL Chairman and Managing Director T. Suvarna Raju says.
With a fleet of over 1,000 engines, including 250 TM333 and 250 Ardiden 1H (Shakti) engines, India’s military is one of the largest operators of Safran-designed helicopter powerplants.
The Ardiden 1H currently powers HAL’s Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter and also will power the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter. The Ardiden 1H1 obtained European certification in 2009 and over 250 units have already been co-produced with HAL, under the designation “Shakti.”
The Ardiden 1U underwent its first bench tests in December 2014. First units have been delivered to HAL and EASA type certification is scheduled for 2017. The Ardiden 1U variant powers the new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a three-ton, single-engine aircraft that made its first flight in September 2016.
The 1.70 billion rupee ($25.4 million) JV, named HE MRO will be located in the western Indian state of Goa and will employ 80-100 technicians.
“The JV reflects the close relationship established over many years between HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines,” Raju adds. “It places both partners on an ambitious path towards world-beating customer support in the field of engine MRO. The joint venture will provide the impetus for the ‘Make in India’ initiative since around 1,000 Shakti engines are likely to fly in the coming years.”
The MRO center plans to progressively support engines of international operators and other engines as agreed to between the partners. In addition to carrying out overhaul activities at Goa, the JV also will provide support through certified maintenance centers located centrally at customer bases.
Bruno Even, CEO of Safran Helicopter Engines, says, “Safran now powers and/or equips 65% of Indian airplanes and helicopters, and is the chief supplier of key systems and equipment for the Rafale, which the Indian air force is buying.”