On Monday, the ground was broken for a new facility of Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt Limited (HE-MRO), a joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran, at Sattari, Goa, 40 kilometres from Panaji. According to HAL, the plant will be operational by the end of 2023, with a capacity of 50 engines per year and a full-capacity objective of 150 engines in the ensuing years.
According to HAL, a “huge crisis impacting the international helicopter market, shortly followed by the worldwide COVID-pandemic” forced the project’s construction to be postponed. Both corporations have committed to a multi-year investment plan, with construction set to begin soon, according to the announcement.
The event was attended by HAL CMD R Madhavan, Safran Helicopter Engines CEO Franck Saudo, and top officers from the Indian Armed Forces, according to a statement from Bengaluru-based HAL.
Both partners signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” during the ceremony to expand their cooperation and explore opportunities for new helicopter engines in civil and military markets, demonstrating their commitment to the Indian government’s “Atmanirbhar Bharat” vision of achieving self-reliance in defence technologies and MRO, according to the statement.
“The 1,000 square metre training and office facility, as well as a 3,800 square metre international class shop facility, will provide MRO services for Safran TM333 and HAL Shakti engines installed on HAL-built helicopters to increase the operational readiness of the Indian Armed Forces,” Madhavan said.
Saudo remarked: “India’s Armed Forces are one of the major operators of Safran-designed helicopter engines, with a fleet of over 1000 engines, including 250 TM333 and over 500 Shakti, and our company powers 100% of HAL built helicopters. All HAL helicopter programmes have our support, and we will extend the same level of commitment to their future projects.”
Over 60 qualified engineers and technicians from the region will be employed as a result of the JV. It was said that the facility has expansion capability for other programmes and that civil or other engines could be added in the future.
According to the announcement, Shakti is the Indian equivalent of the Safran Ardiden 1H1, which was co-developed with HAL and has produced over 500 Shakti engines to far.
Shakti is used to power HAL’s ALH/Dhruv versions, notably the ‘Rudra,’ as well as the HAL-designed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
The new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a three-ton single-engine aircraft, is powered by the Ardiden 1U version. The DGCA (India) certified the engine for civil uses on July 26, 2021, according to the company.