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Thursday, July 04, 2013

HAL To Reconfigure The ALH Dhruv As A Dedicated Air Ambulance

Expanding the scope of this indigenously developed helicopter's utility.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL] recently issued a global Request For Quotation [RFQ] seeking bidders to help turn the civilian version of its Advanced Light Helicopter [ALH], Dhruv, into a fully functional Air Ambulance platform. The accompanying document stipulates that the modified chopper be able to accommodate 2 patients lying down on stretchers with provision for a doctor & a medical attendant to accompany them during flight. It is also required that the helicopter be kitted with on-board Oxygen cylinders, Defibrillator, Ventilator, among other necessary equipment needed to attend to them during the 'Golden Hour'. Once completed, it would have to pass all relevant certification necessary for operation. It appears that HAL has gained suitable appreciation of the relatively new concept of On-Condition Maintenance as it specifies that LRUs being used in this project be capable of being serviced in accordance with this philosophy.


It is unclear, though, whether this conversion is being carried out in response to any specific external work-order in HAL's hands. It has given out no indications of any 3rd party operator for this helicopter. It does, however, appear there is a definite customer for this modified bird, since HAL has stipulated that the winning vendor be able to provide a 30-year life-cycle support for the on-board medical systems, along with provisions for spares. Perhaps, this may be inducted into its own heli ambulance service, the 'Vayu Vahan', that presently uses a similarly modified 'Chetak' helicopter, a 60s design of French origin, to do the job. Additionally, it could also be used to showcase the different possible applications that the Dhruv could be adapted for. Turkey from 2008 has been operating three such modified Dhruv's as Air Ambulances, that it has taken on a 5 year lease from HAL. According to the agreement signed, it has the option to purchase them at the end of its lease period, if it so desires. The lease period is to get over this year, in 2013. One needs to keep one's eyes open for development on this front.

HAL-Advanced-Light-Helicopter-ALH-Dhruv-Air-Ambulance-02-R HAL-Advanced-Light-Helicopter-ALH-Dhruv-Air-Ambulance-03-R

This RFQ also brings back into focus an earlier news report which suggested that HAL was to supply Peru with 2 such similarly configured versions of the ALH. However, since that time there seems to have been no news of any actual delivery having taken place, despite reports of the contract being signed. Neither does HAL list the country as one of its customers on its official website. Reporters appear to have jumped the gun on this one. Unlikely that the RFQ floated is wrt to executing the Peruvian order - taking 5 years to execute a contract for 2 choppers seems too inordinate a delay. Moreover, HAL has stated it would provide only one airframe for the modification. What is interesting, though, is that in the Peru [non]deal, that followed the confirmed Turkish deal, HAL was quoted on record to be looking for a European partner to carry out the modification. Weighing this bit of news with the earlier Turkish report, one could conclude that HAL had supplied the ALH Dhruv in the baseline configuration, & Turkey itself carried out the application-specific conversion. It might explain this search for a vendor to do a similar job.

Recent events in the country have only highlighted the need for such life-saving systems to be available in sufficient numbers when the need arises.


Also read: HAL Executes Export Order For Chetak Helicopters To Suriname - Hands Over 2 Of The 3 Contracted