Turbomeca, the French helicopter turbine engine manufacturer, predicts the helicopter market overall will experience continued strong growth for the next two years before cooling somewhat. In that span, the company will be working overtime to keep up with demand.
Turbomeca Engines has become a major player on a highly competitive field in recent years after decades spent primarily as a powerplant supplier to European helicopter manufacturers. As the chief provider of engines all across the Eurocopter line, Turbomeca has increased its North American presence on pace with American Eurocopter’s penetration of Western Hemisphere markets.
When French President Nicholas Sarkozy made his first official visit to China last November he returned with the confirmation of orders for 110 Airbus 320s and 50 A330s. Safran, the French engine, equipment and systems group, stands to benefit from these deals, especially through the possible selection of its CFM56 engines by Chinese customers.
Tentatively known as the S-76C++, the upgraded Sikorsky is powered by Turbomeca’s new Arriel 2S2 engine. The new engine promises 6 percent more power than its 2S1 predecessor, which currently powers existing S-76s. The initial 2S2 installation and testing on an S-76 prototype will start this month at the Pan-Uzein facility of Turbomeca subsidiary CGTM (Compagnie Generale des Turbo Machines).
Honeywell is developing an advanced growth version of the LTS101 turboshaft. Designated the LTS101-950, it will maintain the same general shape and size as the present LTS101 but will provide up to 23 percent more power for takeoff and a 35-percent increase in power for single-engine conditions, thanks to an improved compressor.
While pledging to retain its North American headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas, French engine maker Turbomeca has announced plans to open a new service, support and maintenance center in Mirabel, Canada, just a few scant miles from Bell Helicopter’s major civil manufacturing center in the same town. The new center will support the needs of the roughly 300 Turbomeca-made powerplants in service throughout Canada.
Turbomeca’s subsidiary CGTM, known primarily as the engine manufacturer’s flight-test center, plans to offer a new air filter for the Eurocopter AS 350 Ecureuil. Developed jointly with filtration specialist Pall Aerospace, the air filter should be certified by early next year. Pau, southwest-France-based CGTM plans to certify the new air filter even for inadvertent flight into icing conditions.
Turbomeca is investing approximately $50 million to expand production and product support activities at its Grand Prairie, Texas facility.
The allocation includes approximately $10 million to fund a 67,000-sq-ft expansion that is expected to be fully operational by May. The expansion allows the company to continue to expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul activities, as well as assemble and test some Arriel and Arrius models.
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.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of 96 Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin helicopters surpassed one million flight hours on September 20. The USCG first acquired the twin-engine HH-65 in 1985 and uses the helicopters for patrol, law enforcement, armed interdiction and rescue missions throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean from 17 land bases and aboard ships. The HH-65 is a variant of the Eurocopter AS 365 Dauphin.