Turbomeca Woos Russians with Co-Development Offer

 - June 5, 2014, 7:17 AM
The Kamov Ka-62 and (inset) Ka-226 are powered by Turbomeca engines. The French company wants to extend its Russian business with a partnership to further develop the RTM322 turboshaft. (Photos: Vladimir Karnozov).

Turbomeca is negotiating with Russia’s United Engine Corp (Russian acronym ODK) to co-develop a new 3,000-shp engine based on the RTM322 but using the new Tech3000 core. The Safran subsidiary has already established a strong presence in Russia, with 200 engines in service and new ones selected to power the Ka-62 and Ka-226 helicopters.

The French offer is to share expenses on condition that the engine would be selected for the Russian rotary-wing designs with the best export prospects, such as the Rachel high-speed helicopter. Turbomeca has signed an MoU with ODK. “We are ready to assemble engines on Russian soil, together with ODK,” Olivier Andreas, Turbomeca president and CEO, told AIN at the recent HeliRussia show. Andreas added that the offer has been well received. He further noted that the RTM322 no longer has any U.S. content, thus freeing it from American export control.

But Russian Helicopters is still considering whether it should make the Rachel a 100-percent national product. If Russia accepts the Turbomeca offer, it would crimp plans for development of the indigenous TV7-117V, Klimov’s last hope to create a worthy successor to the successful but rapidly aging TV3-117/VK2500 series, which powers popular Mil and Kamov designs. Andreas claims the RTM322/Tech3000’s advantages are a higher power-to-weight ratio; EASA certification; and Turbomeca’s client base of 2,500 operators in 155 countries, 50 repair and maintenance centers across the world, 90 field service representative offices and 12 training centers.

Turbomeca wants to become the world’s third largest turboshaft engine manufacturer after General Electric and Pratt & Whitney. The French company is well positioned in the 500- to 2,000-shp range but needs a strategic partner above 2,000 shp to meet growing competition with the U.S. manufacturers. Last year Turbomeca became full owner of the RTM322 after Rolls-Royce pulled out of the joint venture that had developed and produced the engine for the NH-90, the AW101 and the UK’s Apache helicopters.

General Electric and Pratt & Whitney previously attempted partnerships, with Saturn and Perm Motors, respectively, but both failed. Conversely, Turbomeca’s sister company in the Safran group, Snecma, has successfully partnered with Saturn to produce the PowerJet SaM146, which powers the Sukhoi Superjet 100.

The Turbomeca Ardiden 3G turboshaft, scheduled for European certification a year from now, has been selected for the Kamov Ka-62. Eight engines have already been delivered from a total order of 308. “We are proud to be on board the Ka-62, a modern machine that is going to be successful in the global market,” Andreas commented.

The smaller Ka-226T is powered by the Arrius 2G1, and Kamov’s initial order is for 41 of these engines. Certified in 2011, the engine is part of the Ka-226T tender for 175 rotorcraft for the Indian armed forces. Ka-226T deliveries will start later this year to launch customer Gazprom.