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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Scoping The Market For Engines To Power India's Civilian Aircraft Project

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In theory, it could emerge as the world's fastest Turboprop aircraft in operation.

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India's maiden attempt to develop its very own 70-100 capacity civil transport aircraft would soon get a boost#. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL], one of the participants in this National project, has issued a Request For Information [RFI] to select a suitable propulsion system for the twin-engine aircraft. Suppliers would have to provide 10 engines in the prototype phase of the programme, along with the necessary accessories, mountings & housing. Its stated 2017 as the time when the engines are required for integration on to the 1st prototype [estimating 3-4 prototypes, with the remaining engines for ground functions]. Commercial production is targeted for commencement from 2019, where it foresees a domestic requirement of 500 of these aircrafts [1000 engines], & then there could be export orders. The 80 kN thrust generating Engine, would have to be equipped with thrust reversers, a first for an indigenous aircraft project1, thereby allowing it to land on shorter runways, as may be the case in many Indian cities.

Among the Engine parameters suppliers need to provide HAL, is its flight performance at an altitude of 40,000 feet & Mach 0.95 - the flight ceiling matches with earlier reports, while the operating speed is a revelation. They've been asked to provide either a Turbofan or Turboprop-based solution. HAL would then finalise the aircraft design, based on the power-plant selected. Interestingly, if they were to decide on a Turboprop engine, & design the aircraft capable of the above mentioned flight performance, they would have created the world's fastest operational Turboprop-driven aircraft, a title currently held by the Indian Navy's Tupolev Tu-142M, flying at a speed of around Mach 0.75. A possibility. In reality, though, we might see a more conservative, proven aircraft design concept, implemented using contemporary technology. The labour of national love that this project is#, HAL has given responders time till the 14th of February, by which to respond with their offer.

Curiously the lead organisation for this project is somewhat still unclear. Earlier reports stated that the National Aerospace Laboratories [NAL] would don the role. Later it has been suggested that that HAL would lead the project. The production phase of the project could see the Indian private sector take the lead. NAL's relative inexperience & its Saras aircraft programme, that is yet to be completed, may have prompted HAL, despite it own delayed & unfinished projects, being given that responsibility. In recent times, Russia & Israel, too, have evinced interest in joining the programme. This regional transport aircraft undertaking, along with earning revenues from sale to meet expected requirement, also aims to accelerate India's industrial capability & capacity enhancement in the hi-tech domain. RFI indicates forward movement. Music to the ears, if true.

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Wishing all visitors to this blog a very Happy New Year. May 2014 usher in greater growth, prosperity & peace in your life & you are able to harness the energies needed for you to achieve your goals. Personally, upon reflection, 2013 turned out to be an unremarkable, uneventful year. No spikes of joy, neither, thankfully, insurmountable negativities. Flatlined on the median. Need to work on doing better in 2014.

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Godspeed

Also Read: HJT-16 'Kiran' Aircraft With Its Weapons Complement [Image Of The Day]

# = apologies for the bad pun. Can't resist it

1 = could not confirm if the NAL Saras aircraft is equipped with Thrust Reversers, although, NAL had reported ground testing the engine in that mode. Unlikely though it is present on the integrated version.


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