29-May-2011 Source: HeliHub.com
P Soundara Rajan, managing director of HAL’s helicopter complex, told an Indian newspaper that the company is looking elsewhere for a helicopter engine partner after Turbomeca asked for a higher fee to fit the jointly developed Shakti engine inot the new LUH helicopter.Â The LUH helicopter, which will be available in both civil and miltiary guises, is planned to replace the obsolete Chetak and Cheetah helicopters, effectively licence built from the Alouette II and II ranges with some local adaptions.
The difference of opinion apparently is around converting the Shakti engine to make it suitable for single-engine operations – prevoiusly it has been used only in a twin-engined configuration.Â HAL is considering whether an off-the-shelf solution from another manufacturer may be the easier and cheaper option. The joint venture between HAL and Turbomeca was not in jeopardy, only this particular program being in question.Â Honeywell and Rolls-Royce are believed to be in talks with the state-owned defence undertaking, while Pratt & Whitney told the newspaper that they are not working with HAL.Â General Electric did not respond to their enquiries.
HAL is on track for their LUH project, apart from the engine.Â Design is frozen, the fibre-layup has also started, while the assembly jigs designs have also been completed. They will be ready to fly the new helicopter by the end of 2012 or early 2013. If all goes right, they should be ready for the first flight by 2014 with deliveries starting in 2015.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com