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Thursday, January 26, 2017

HAL In Search Of A Private Partner To Tend to Its Chetak Helicopters

Desi version of the French AĆ©rospatiale Alouette III helicopter, the workhorse of the Indian Army Aviation Corps


The state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL], currently, has its fingers dipped in a myriad kind of production & developmental activities. Besides being the sole licensed manufacturer & upgrader of the different types of aircrafts & helicopters operated by the Armed Forces, it is also the lead R&D agency for programs such as the Advanced Light Helicopter [ALH] Dhruv [including its weaponised variant], Light Combat Helicopter [LCH], Light Utility Helicopter [LUH], as well as the fixe-wing Hindustan Turbo Trainer - 40 [HTT-40] aircraft. With so much on its plate, it would serve HAL well to hive off some of the work pertaining to its legacy platforms to a private agency.


With this in view, HAL is, currently, seeking Expression of Interest [EOI] from private sector participants to undertake servicing activity of the 350-odd Chetak Helicopters flown, primarily, by the country's security establishments. As per SOP, these helicopters are serviced in 2 stages - Stage T1, after 400 hours of flight & Stage T2, performed after 800 flight hours. An estimated total of around 354 servicing sessions are needed to be carried out, till 2027. Current plans involve progressively phasing out these helicopter, the first of which India flew in the mid-60s, concurrently replacing them with the aforementioned indigenous Dhruv & Russian Kamov Ka-226T 'Hoodlum' helicopters. It would be safe to assume that by 2030, the transition would be complete.

The agency tasked with the Servicing would need to carry out pre-survey, dismantling, inspection, testing, repairing, painting, followed by re-assembly of the helicopter. It must, then, offer "Inspection for Ground Run & Flight acceptance", as part of its Service contract. In the past too it had sought out similar participations for other platforms, but their outcome has been indeterminate, so far. This one, though, is a low-hanging fruit, which HAL must see through. Enterprises such as 'Indocopters', 'Yatih Air Services', 'Air Works India Engineering', are established names already carrying out similar work on privately-owned helicopters in the country. It must use this opportunity to shed some of its flab, allowing private partners to share the responsibility, & build up its own capacity & capability.


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