Dubai Air Show

French-powered Dhruv opens Indian helo market

 - November 13, 2007, 5:04 AM

Safran’s business in India has taken a step forward following the recent maiden flight of Hindustan Aeronautics’ Dhruv helicopter powered by the Ardiden 1H Shakti turboshaft engine produced by the French group’s Turbomeca division. The move bolsters Safran’s long-term expansion plans in India, not only in the defense market but also in the booming civil sector.

Two years ago, Safran set up research-and-development facilities in India and doubled its workforce there. It currently employs more than 1,000 people directly in four subsidiaries and through two Indian partner companies.

The group already has representatives at offices in Delhi and Bangalore, the latter being the heart of India’s growing aerospace sector. Bangalore is home to Safran’s new design and development center–its biggest R&D office outside France–which conducts advanced research in engine components, aircraft equipment and on-board software.

Safran also has established two production and two engineering subsidiaries in India and has set up two manufacturing joint ventures with local industrialists–the latter are the fully owned subsidiary Turbomeca Turbo Chargers Industrial India and a 50/50 joint venture called Snecma-HAL Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., which is developing with Hindustan Aeronautics the Shakti engine for the Dhruv.

The Shakti (meaning “power” in Hindi) made its first flight on the Dhruv on August 20 and is expected to achieve certification by both Indian and European authorities by the end of this year. A more powerful version of the Turbomeca 1,100-shp TM333 2B2  turboshaft, the engine was developed to meet the power needs of helicopter missions at high altitudes and in extreme hot weather. Two factors behind this development were the increasing weight of the Dhruv airframe and operators’ additional range requirements.

Plans call for installing the Shakti on at least 200 Dhruvs, either on new-build helicopters or for re-engining those previously equipped with the TM333-2B2. It offers 1,200 shp for takeoff power as well as emergency power 30 percent higher than that produced by the TM333-2B2.