Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt. Limited (HE-MRO), a Joint Venture of Safran and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), on 23rd October in Goa, southwest India. This Joint Venture will support helicopter engines operated by national and international operators from a 1,000m2 office and a 3,800m2 shop facility.
The new centre will provide maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) services for Safran TM333 and HAL Shakti engines installed on HAL-built helicopters. It will open for business in 2017 with a capacity of 50 repaired engines a year and a full-capacity goal of 150 in the coming years. By then, the initial staff of 30 will grow to 100. The centre’s capabilities may be expanded to include other engines as mutually agreed.
With a fleet of over 1,000 engines, including 250 TM333 and 250 Shakti, India’s armed forces are one of the largest operators of Safran-designed helicopter engines. Shakti is the Indian designation for the Safran Ardiden 1H1, co-developed with HAL and produced under license.
Shakti is fitted to HAL’s ALH/Dhruv and has been selected to power the HAL-designed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). The Ardiden 1U variant powers the new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a 3t single-engine aircraft that made its maiden flight in September 2016.
Safran has maintained a presence in India for over 60 years in its three core markets – aerospace, defence and security. With 2,500 locally based employees, its activities range from R&D to design, production and maintenance. According to Safran, the group currently powers and/or equips 65% of Indian aircraft and helicopters, as well as supplying key systems and equipment for the Rafale.
Besides helicopter engines, Safran has previously partnered with HAL through local businesses such as Aircraft Engines (180-employee JV in Bangalore) and Electronics & Defence equipment (Inertial Navigation Systems & Automated Flight Control Systems).