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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Helicopter Suppliers Highlight Aero India

HAL, Russian Helicopters, Eurocopter among exhibitors at Indian aerospace tradeshow.

By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large

Aero India 2011, the 8th annual international aerospace and defense exhibition—billed as “Asia’s premier air show”—starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Feb. 13 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru in southern India. Organized primarily by the Indian Ministry of Defence in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry, the event is expected to draw military and civil manufacturers, operators and enthusiasts from around the globe, including helicopter companies such as Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Eurocopter, Russian Helicopters and CAE. In addition to an exhibit hall, outdoor static and aerial displays of the latest helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and satellites, Aero India will offer a wide variety of workshops and technical briefings on subjects including avionics, aerospace engineering and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Among the manufacturers scheduled to exhibit is HAL, the Bangalore-based aerospace firm that builds a variety of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, both of their own designs, as well as some manufactured under licenses issued by other companies. This year, HAL plans to use the event as the backdrop for several aircraft deliveries and contract announcements.

HAL’s handover schedule includes the delivery of one Cheetah helicopter to the Namibian Air Force, and the first five ships of a 159-unit order of twin-engine Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters to Maj. Gen. P.K. Bhatalli of the Indian Army’s Aviation Command.

Ashok Nayak, chairman of HAL, says the company will “showcase our future products and technologies, our designing capabilities, and the excellence we have achieved in manufacturing,” adding that Aero India will serve as a “platform to explore more business opportunities with other countries.”

HAL will also unveil a mock-up of the light utility helicopter it has been developing. The full-scale model will give attendees a look at what HAL is calling its “new generation” helicopter. With a design weight of three tons, the aircraft is being developed to serve both the civil and military sides of the rotorcraft community. A single turbine engine specifically selected to perform high altitude missions with ease will power the helicopter. Coupled to that powerplant will be a four-bladed composite rotor system. Full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) with engine backup control and night flying capabilities are also designed into the aircraft. The name of the proposed helicopter has not been announced as of this writing, but is expected for release during Aero India.

HAL will also use the venue for the first flight of its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) designed as a variant of the popular Dhruv platform. The second prototype will be fitted with an impressive weapons package and countermeasures suite. With the utility version already in use with military services throughout the region, satisfaction with the aircraft’s older variants have driven orders for the LCH ship to more than 150.

HAL is also partnering with CAE through its joint venture, Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF), to provide Dhruv training using a new CAE-supplied simulator. The trainer will enter service in May 2011 from the HATSOFF center in Bangalore, India. It joins a Bell 412 simulator.

Eurocopter is also planning to debut a new helicopter variant at the show—the AS550 C3 Fennec, which is being billed as a successor to the Cheetah and Chetek helicopters. The manufacturer will also display its AS565 Naval Panther, a variant of the Dauphin series, and the EC135 in the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) configuration. The AS550 C3 Fennec recently concluded field trials and is designed to perform in hot and high conditions.

Russian Helicopters is also involved in Aero India, with the official opening of a new service center held on Monday. Integrated Helicopter Services, a joint venture with India’s Vectra Group, has begun offering rotorcraft maintenance and repairs from a new facility in Greater Noida, a suburb of New Delhi. The complex provides major repairs for engines and avionics, and will feature a training center and large inventory of spare parts.

For a full list of exhibitors, tickets and more information about Aero India 2011, visit https://www.aeroindia.in/Main.aspx


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