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India and France move a step closer to make advanced helicopter engines

Safran new generation helicopter engines are much fuel-efficient over other in-service engines (Image courtesy: Safran)

French aviation and defence equipment manufacturer Safran Helicopter Engines and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed a workshare agreement for the joint development of the engine intended for the future 13-tonne Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) and its naval version Deck Based Multi-Role Helicopter (DBMRH).

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, the French major and HAL had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2022 to create a new joint venture intended to develop helicopter engines under the Indian government’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Wednesday’s agreement stipulates the sharing of activities within the joint venture where both parties have agreed on an equivalent repartition. In particular, HAL will take part in the design, development, and production of some of the core engine components, which is a breakthrough achievement in terms of expertise and know-how in the country.

India Multi Role Helicopter

The workshare agreement was signed by HAL Aero Engine Research and Design Centre General Manager K Ramesh and Safran Helicopter Engines’ EVP Sales and Marketing Florent Chauvancy in presence of HAL CMD C B Ananthakrishnan and Franck Saudo, CEO, Safran Helicopter Engines.

“The development of the IMRH helicopter continues, and a 1/3 scale model was displayed by HAL at Aero India 2023. Discussions are also continuing with the Indian Armed Forces on the operational requirements for this new helicopter,” Safran said in a statement after the workshare agreement signing.

It stated that the availability of an indigenous engine will enhance the self-reliance content on the platform and demonstrates the commitment of both Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL to the Narendra Modi government’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat – particularly in defence technologies.

safran hal india

“The joint development of high power engine is a new milestone in HALs ever-growing capabilities in the sector with a competent partner like Safran Helicopter Engines. We are confident of making the engine meet the highly stringent and demanding requirements of Indian Defence customers,” said HAL CMD Ananthakrishnan.

Calling HAL its “partner for decades”, Saudo asserted that this programme will bring many advanced technologies to the Indian aerospace ecosystem and will also provide the Indian Armed Forces with state-of-the-art solutions.

Both Safran and HAL will continue to work on the development of this joint venture in the coming months, which is intended not only to develop an engine for the IMRH, but also for other helicopters.

They also agreed on the condition for the transfer right to HAL for manufacturing of seven critical forging and casting raw parts, for further enhancement of indigenous content in Shakti engine of Dhruv and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) programmes.

On Tuesday, Air India and CFM International – a joint company between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines – signed an agreement for the largest-ever CFM LEAP engine order.

CFM will exclusively power the airline’s newly-announced fleet of 210 Airbus A320/A321neo and 190 Boeing 737 MAX family aircraft.

Air India’s firm order for 800 LEAP engines includes 420 LEAP-1A, 380 LEAP-1B, plus spares. Air India also signed a CFM services contract.

The LEAP engine family has achieved one of the fastest accumulations of flight hours in commercial aviation history, amassing more than 27 million engine flight hours and 11 million flight cycles.

Also Read: French aero-engine giant Safran set to debut production in India