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Monday, September 23, 2013

Interview with Turbomeca CEO Olivier Andries

Olivier Andries, CEO of Turbomeca (Stand C20), spoke with Rotor & Wing in the lead-up to Helitech 2013 to find out what the engine OEM is bringing to the show and other recent developments.

By Andrew Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Rotor & Wing: What is your focus at Helitech?

Olivier Andries: Three engines are going to be at the booth. The first is the Makila engine, which powers the Super Puma, EC225 and EC725 helicopters, many for the offshore and military markets.


The second line is the RTM322, which is a big step forward for us. We have announced the acquisition of the Rolls-Royce share of this program, which is a key element for our developing strategies.


The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is going to be one of our most important customers. I would say very clearly, as important to us as the French MoD.


The UK MoD is operating more than 400 engines with their fleet of AgustaWestland AW101 Merlins and Westland WAH-64 Apaches, and we also supply the Makilas on the Mk2 Pumas, so with such a fleet, satisfying the UK MoD means a lot to us, which is one of the main reasons why we’re coming to Helitech.


The third engine is the Arrius, more specifically the 2R variant, which is going to power the Bell short light single (SLS) platform, following the announcement at the Paris Air Show. Bell is going to communicate about their short light single, so this is going to also be an important part of Helitech.

Rotor & Wing: How did the relationship with Bell Helicopter come about?

Andries: It’s meaningful, of course for us and I think for Bell, for one very simple reason – we have never worked with Bell so far, and both of us have more than 50 years of experience in the helicopter industry. We’ve been working primarily with Eurocopter, and Bell has been mainly working with Rolls-Royce, GE and Pratt & Whitney.


Turbomeca CEO Olivier Andries spoke with Rotor & Wing prior
to Helitech. Photo courtesy of Turbomeca
How did it happen? Well, first of all, our image with the operators in terms of support performance has improved significantly due to our efforts in the last five years, and so that’s a big point because support is a key element of Bell’s brand, and so it was a prerequisite for connecting with them.


We are investing in the future of our product line, and for us, it’s important for our partners to know that this partner will still be there 30 years from now. That was also a key element of the decision process.


Now for us, very clearly, we have been looking forward to working with Bell, and so we have the appetite to seize this opportunity. A company like Turbomeca needs to have a diversified portfolio of helicopter manufacturer customers. For us it was a multi-use objective not to put all our eggs in one basket –it’s  as simple as that.

Rotor & Wing: Do you foresee teaming with Bell on other future projects?

Andries: The hope is that this partnership will grow.

Rotor & Wing: What are your plans for the RTM322?

Andries: It’s going to bring us increased competencies in the hot box of the engine. This will enable us to accelerate our time-to-market in developing a commercial product line for heavy helicopters, typically for the offshore market, and so the plan is to develop this in the not-too-distant future.


We refer to the short-term development as the TS2500, or 2,500 hp engine for commercial applications. And in the medium-term future, we’ll develop a 3,000 hp commercial engine.


The plan is to offer to the market an alternative to the T700 and CT7 from GE. So the alternative to the T700 is the RTM322 as it is, and with the commercial product line that we plan to develop, we want to offer an alternative to the CT7, the engine of the Sikorsky S-92, which will power the Bell 525 and the AW189.

Rotor & Wing: What were the highlights of your trip to Moscow in August?

Andries: We announced a repair and overhaul license agreement with a company named Ural Works of Civil Aviation, which is based in Ural, for the repair and overhaul of Turbomeca engines that are going to be fitted on Russian helicopters for the Russian markets.


Speaking about Russia, we have a growing partnership with Russian Helicopters that is becoming more and more active. We are positioned on two platforms, the Kamov Ka-226 – a light twin-engine helicopter with the Arrius engine – and the Ka-62, which is a seven-ton aircraft that is going to be powered by the Ardiden 3.


The Kamov Ka-62 was unveiled as a real aircraft for the first time during MAKS, and it’s going to perform its first flight two months from now [November 2013].


Kamov has already announced two orders, one from Atlas Taxi Aereo for 14 aircraft [seven firm and seven options] and another from a Colombian company called Vertical de Aviacion for five [as part of an order that also included five Mi-171A1s]. There will also be orders within Russia.

Rotor & Wing: What’s the timeline for the Kamov Ka-62 development?


Andries: First flight will take place within two months. Engine certification is going to happen over the course of 2014. Aircraft certification is going to occur sometime during 2015, and entry into service is targeted for end of 2015/beginning of 2016.

Turbomeca’s Ardiden 3 will power the Russian Kamov Ka-62.
Photo courtesy of Russian Helicopters
Rotor & Wing: Is this just the beginning of the partnership with Russian Helicopters?

Andries: Hopefully yes, we are building on our relationship with them. There are strong competencies. They are a strong player in the helicopter markets, and currently part of their business is international. So they want to expand that, and so far, so good. Yes indeed, we are discussing other opportunities with them. But it’s too soon for me to elaborate more precisely.

Rotor & Wing: What is the latest with the bank of online services and technologies (Boost) program?

Andries: The development is mostly completed, we are now in the first test stage with IBM, which is our software integrator, and six operators who decided to get involved with the pilot phase [Advanced Helicopters, CHC, Helicopters Italia,

Helijet, Heli-Union and Milestone Aviation Group] because they are very much interested and enthusiastic to be our Boost partner.


They want to start working on that platform and realize the value of those online services. Basically, Boost is going to provide to our customers an online configuration management system.

For more information about Turbomeca and parent company Safran Group, visit Stand C20 and go to www.turbomeca.com

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