Turkish Aircraft Industries (TAI) has brought its T625 twin-engined medium utility helicopter partial mock-up to Paris, displaying the type in full scale for the first time outside Turkey. While serious marketing has yet to start, its appearance in Paris is part of a pre-marketing product awareness campaign. The demonstration example, which is mostly based on a production-representative fuselage and other components, had first been revealed at the IDEF show in Ankara in May.
TAI began the design of the T625 in 2013 under the name Ozgun. Development of a utility helicopter was driven primarily by the domestic market, especially the need to replace the aging fleet of Bell Model 205/UH-1Hs in service with the Turkish armed forces. Although there is no formal commitment yet to acquire the T625, the armed forces naturally have what TAI’s executive VP for the helicopter group, Metin Sancar, described as a “strong interest”.
There is also a considerable and growing requirement for this class of helicopter for parapublic tasks such as air ambulance and rescue, while Turkey is also seeing a growth in helicopters used for executive travel, with a rise in the number of city helipads. TAI is displaying a representative VIP cabin at the show, and is studying air ambulance interiors that could take two or three stretchers plus an attendant. Sancar is hopeful of selling 300 T625s domestically over 15 years, and is aiming for more than 500 export sales over 20-to-25 years.
Apart from the aircraft’s engines, the T625 is of entirely indigenous design, with avionics provided by Aselsan. TAI hopes to fly the first of three flying prototypes in September 2018. Two of those prototypes will be of the civilian version, while the third will have additional military equipment. As well as these aircraft, there is a transmission test rig and a ground-based “iron bird,” while Aselsan has an avionics test rig. Serious testing is to get under way before the end of this year, leading to a first flight scheduled for September 2018. Certification will initially be handled by Turkish authorities, to be followed by EASA approval.
Currently the T625 is powered by a pair of LHTEC CTS800 turboshafts, as also used in TAI’s T129 Atak attack helicopter. Turkish powerplant manufacturer Tusas Engine Industries (TEI) has embarked on developing an indigenous turboshaft in the 1,400-shp class that is intended to eventually power the T625, as well as to potentially form the basis of derivative powerplants for aircraft such as the T129 and Hurkus trainer. Known as TEDP (Turboshaft Engine Development Project), the program was officially launched in February this year.
To build the T625, TAI has invested heavily in a new helicopter center at its Ankara plant, where further designs will be pursued. The company has plans to create a range of Turkish rotary-wing designs of varying sizes, adding new types in succession to build a family of helicopters.