Paris Air Show

Paris 2011: P&WC To Power Africa’s First Indigenous Civil Turboprop

 - June 20, 2011, 9:15 PM

Pratt & Whitney Canada (Hall 4, F218) PT6As will power the first civil aircraft certified on the African continent, the company announced here in Paris. Developed by South Africa’s Aerosud, the two-seat airplane will serve in reconnaissance and surveillance roles.

Although assembly of the first prototype has already begun,  Contacted athis offices in South Africaoutside Pretoria, Paul Potgieter, Aerosud Holdings group managing director, Paul Potgieter told AIN he expectsed to officially launch the project in September., although assembly of the first prototype has already begun. “We are extremely proud to be Pratt & Whitney Canada’s first OEM customer on the African continent,” said Potgieter, speaking from his offices outside Pretoria.. “We look forward to a good, long-term relationship with P&WC.”

Known as AHRLAC (advanced high-performance reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft), the airplane’s design emerged out of a study launched into the viability of developing a low-cost, yet high-performance, manned alternative to UAV’s, according to Aerosud. Design characteristics include self-deployment to and from semi-prepared strips coupled with high cruise speed and “much extended” range and loiter capability.

The company designed the aircraft for multiple missions via the carriage of payload  combinations, including FLIRforward-looking infrared, synthetic-aperture SAR radars, communications-intelligence COMINT and ELINT electronic-intelligence sensors etc, all integrated with an advanced avionics suite optimized for both onboard display as well as data relay. The total pPayload capability totalsis around 1,750 pounds.

Developed in close partnership with the South African Paramount Group, the AHRLAC will perform “homeland security” roles covering applications such as border security, coastal and maritime/EEZ (exclusive economic zone) patrol, anti-piracy and , drug traffic control, etc. Crew and mission protection plays a major role in the design, according to Aerosud.

The company says said construction of a first prototype has already reached an advanced stage, with wind wind-tunnel testing completed and fully instrumented testing of a one-quarter scale radio-controlled model having flown some 80 tests to date. Aerosud plans a first flight of the prototype AHRLAC some time next year.

An established leader in the South African aviation industry, Aerosud serves as a risk- sharing partner to the Airbus A400M program  andprogram and  participated in the Super Mirage project involving the re-engining of the Mirage F1 fighter using a variant of the Klimov RD33 engine used in the MiGg 29. o

The senior leaders in Aerosud previously held responsibility for the overall management and design leadership of the South African Rooivalk combat support helicopter.

Although Aerosud says it continues to holdholds the view that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will continue to play a key role in aerial reconnaissance and surveillance, UAVs suffer from a number of constraints, including high acquisition cost, control complexity, control link security, limited payload capacity and difficulties associated with operation in ATC zones. They also require a large “logistic footprint” for deployment and control, according to Aerosud.

Potgieter said he couldn’twouldn’t offer details on development cost or market projections, noting only that Aerosud would reveal further details information at a later stage. “The aviation industry is well known for a tendency for premature releases by enthusiastic teams, too often announcing details and creating expectations, which do not materialize,” said Potgieter. “The Aerosud approach tends to be more conservative. W– we prefer to first convincing ourselves of the merits and realities of our plans, prior to releasing details. We accordingly are not planning on sharing any further details until we are much closer to a first flight date.”

Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney Canada continues to enjoy the top position in the class of turboprops where the PT-6 resides. “The PT-6 markets are holding their own,” P&WC president John Saabas told AIN prior to the show. “So, in balance, [the market is] coming back.”