Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
April 20, 2010
NEW DELHI — Industry hopefuls last week submitted bids to build 75 basic trainer aircraft for the Indian air force, at a cost of roughly $6 million each.
Contenders include the Embraer 312 Tocano, PZL 130 Orlik, Grob 120, Hawker Beechcraft, Pilatus PC-7A, Korea’s KT-1 and EADS Socata TB30 — with the last three having the same basic platform and engine. Once a decision is made, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will float a bid for the design of 104 aircraft.
The tender comes with a 30% offsets clause, which one original equipment manufacturer (OEM) says will not be difficult to fulfill in India. However,the ejection seat is a distinct requirement,and those that do not have built-in may be disqualified, a senior official told Aviation Week.
“An ejection seat is not easy to fit as it requires structural strengthening,” the official adds.
The urgent requirement comes with the grounding of a fleet of more than 100 Hindustan Piston Trainer (HPT)-32s following a spurt of crashes.
Pilots are currently being trained on another indigenous HAL aircraft, the Kiran, a straight-wing aircraft earlier used in stage-two training of pilots. HAL is developing an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), which the Indian air force plans to buy, but it is not expected to fly for at least three years. Final training is on the advance jet trainer Mk132, the Hawk, which is suffering from production delays with only 29 available of the 66 ordered.
“This experiment [training on Kirans] has been quite successful,” Indian air force chief of air staff P.V. Naik told Aviation Week recently. “Maybe for another year and a half we will continue with this. I am sure by then we will be able to find an alternative to HPT-32 to continue training unhindered.”
Fuel system problems with the HPT-32 has led HAL to ask for bids for an emergency parachute recovery system to fit 120 grounded trainers, a commercial-off-the-shelf item.
BRS, one of the three contenders, has designed, manufactured and distributed emergency parachutes for 30 years and says it has sold more than 31,000 units and documented 243 lives saved. “Our BRS system is ideally suited for the application...this technology was adapted to faster and heavier experimental aircraft, which evolved into FAA-approved parachute installations in certified aircraft,” President and CEO Larry Williams told Aviation Week.
The most significant advancement of this technology was its incorporation as standard equipment on all Cirrus Design aircraft in 1998, which currently account for one-third of all new single-engine general aviation aircraft sales in the U.S.
- Neelam Mathews (email@example.com)