HAL signs $100 million contract with Honeywell for indigenous trainer engines - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 28 July 2022

HAL signs $100 million contract with Honeywell for indigenous trainer engines

Home-grown HTT-40 basic trainer proves itself against Swiss rival, the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 28th July 22


Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has signed a US $100 million contract with US engine maker Honeywell, for 88 engines to power the indigenous Hindustan Turbo Trainer – 40 (HTT-40), on which army, navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots will first learn to fly.


“HAL signed a contract worth over US$100 million for supply and manufacture of 88 TPE331-12B engines/kits along with maintenance and support services to power the HTT-40,” stated a Ministry of Defence (MoD) press announcementon Wednesday


“HAL has successfully developed Basic Trainer Aircraft (HTT-40) to address the basic training requirements of the IAF.  There is potential requirement of 70 aircraft.  The contract for the same with IAF is under advanced stage of approval”, announced R Madhavan, HAL’s Chairman and Managing Director.


In designing and developing the HTT-40, HAL has proven a point against a sceptical IAF, which opposed the HTT-40, blocked development funding, and demanded that the expensive Pilatus PC-7 Mark II Swiss trainer be imported and the HTT-40 programme scuttled.


“There is no need for [the HTT-40 trainer]”, IAF boss Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, said dismissively at the Aero India show in February 2013. “We have the Pilatus PC-7. It’s a proven aircraft. The project HAL plans is from scratch. Our indications are that the cost will be too high. There is no need for all this.”


An incensed HAL took up the challenge, and committed Rs 350 crore of internal HAL funds to the HTT-40 project. A team of young, talented HAL designers worked without IAF assistance to bring the aircraft to flight in 2016.


While the final price of the HTT-40 is still being negotiated between HAL and the IAF, Business Standard learns it is in the range of Rs 50-55 crore – about the same as a Pilatus PC-7 Mark II today.


The HTT-40 is a propeller-driven aircraft for “Stage-1” training of rookie pilots. After 80 hours of basic training on the HTT-40, pilots will move on to “Stage-2” training on the HAL-built Kiran Mark II jet trainer. Those selected to fly fighter aircraft move on to “Stage-3” training on the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT). Only after that will they graduate to flying frontline fighters in the IAF’s combat squadrons.


The advanced systems in the HTT-40 include a pressurised cockpit (which allows flight at high altitudes), “zero-zero” ejection seats (which allow ejection even from a static aircraft), and a state-of-the-art, glass cockpit display with “in-flight simulation” that permits flight instructors to electronically simulate various system failures, allowing the rookie pilot to handle the “emergency”.


The IAF, which currently imparts basic training to army and navy pilots in addition to its own, calculates that it needs 181 basic trainer aircraft. It has already bought 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mark II trainers. After building and inducting 72 HTT-40s in IAF training schools, there will still be a requirement for 34 more basic trainers. If the HTT-40 performs well, that order will also go to HAL.


“Our TPE331-12 family of engines has proven itself in operations all over the world, and we have committed to support and deliver engines as well as kits within the stipulated schedule to meet the requirements of the IAF,” said Eric Walters, of Honeywell Defense & Space.  


The TPE331-12B engine is a single-shaft, turboprop engine with a two stage centrifugal compressor, power turbine, gearbox and an electronic engine controller (EEC) for reliable power and operational characteristics.

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