Thursday, April 22, 2010

HAL Scopes Foreign Engine For "Hindustan" Turbo Trainer

India's in-development basic trainer aircraft, designated the Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) will have a foreign turboprop engine, propeller and fuel system. The aircraft's developer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) sent out this week a request for information (RFI) calling for a suitable engine and propeller for the 2.8-3-ton airplane, which it anticipates the Indian air force will buy 120 of. Like the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) programme, the HTT-40 -- being developed to replace the troubled HPT-32 -- is being projected as India's own home-built basic trainer. Of course, it's the lack of such an aircraft that is forcing the government to put out for 80 foreign trainers on a procurement fast-track.

The RFI states that HAL intends to acquire 130 engines, including those for the prototypes. Contenders have been asked to respond to the RFI by June 15 this year. According to the RFI, "The engine and propeller should should form a proven combination which is cleared for operation of aircraft in aerobatic category." HAL is looking for a FADEC engine with a ~700-820 kW power rating, a service ceiling of 22,965-feet and a max sea-level speed of 475-kmh.

Firms expected to bid include Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce and Lycoming. I don't think Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) -- sadly the only airplane maker in the country -- will ever be really interested in moving beyond the low-tech zero innovation cookie-cutter assembly work that it does. And nobody really knows what their engine division does. As a result, India -- a country of superpower ambitions -- is forced to buy even basic trainers from abroad.


DJ said...

Might as well train our pilots in NATO/USAF training schools

sudeep said...


This post was really uncharacteristic coming from you.. Look at it from HALs perspective.

Let us say, you have 40 engineers, 8 mid level managers, and 2 principle engineers, 2 test pilots in total. With this manpower, you start from scratch, i.e. a technology level that is non existent.

Now, you can allocate your man power to build things like Dhruv, IJT, LCH and so on, or you can allocate some of it to building something that is basically a commodity (like a piston engine for a trainer, but still something that will require quite a bit of your engineering resources).

What would you choose?

If you allocate some of your resources to an ab-initio piston engine development, you will probably get there, but where does it leave your organization? You are probably still a bit player in a hyper competitive field in a technology that has limited future.

I suspect HALs decision will make sense from this perspective.

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