The ground-breaking ceremony for a new facility of Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt Limited (HE-MRO), a joint venture of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran, was held on Monday at Sattari, 40 km from Panaji, in Goa.
The facility will be operational by the end of 2023 with a capacity to repair 50 engines a year and a full-capacity goal of 150 engines in the coming years, HAL said.
An earlier planned construction of this project had to be postponed due to a ''major crisis impacting the international helicopter market, closely followed by the worldwide COVID-pandemic'', according to HAL.
Through this groundbreaking, both companies commit to a multi-year investment plan, with construction starting very soon, it said.
HAL CMD R Madhavan, Safran Helicopter Engines CEO Franck Saudo, and senior officers from the Indian Armed Forces were present on the occasion, Bengaluru-headquartered HAL said in a statement.
During the ceremony, both partners signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" to extend their cooperation and explore opportunities for new helicopter engines in civil and military markets, reflecting their commitment to the Indian Government's vision of "Atmanirbhar Bharat" towards achieving self-reliance in defense technologies and MRO, it said.
Madhavan said, ''The 1,000 sqm training and office facility and a 3,800 sqm international class shop facility will provide Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services for Safran TM333 and HAL Shakti engines installed on HAL-built helicopters to increase the operational readiness of the Indian Armed Forces.''
Saudo commented, ''With a fleet of over 1000 engines, including 250 TM333 and over 500 Shakti, India's Armed Forces are one of the largest operators of Safran-designed helicopter engines, and our company powers 100 percent of HAL produced helicopters. We support all HAL helicopter programs and will offer the level of commitment to their future projects.''
The JV will also bring employment opportunities to over 60 qualified engineers and technicians of the region. The facility has an expansion capacity for other programs and could include civil or other engines in the future, it was stated.
Shakti is the Indian variant of the Safran Ardiden 1H1, co-developed with HAL, which has produced over 500 plus Shakti engines to date, the statement said. Shakti is installed on HAL's ALH/Dhruv variants including 'Rudra' and has also been selected to power the HAL-designed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
The Ardiden 1U variant powers the new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a three-ton single-engine aircraft. The engine was certified by DGCA (India) on July 26, 2021, for civil applications, it said.
(With inputs from PTI)