Saturday, October 23, 2010

Trainer trials near completion, decision expected by March

Oct 21, 2010
Neelam Mathews

Airbus Military PZL 130 Orlik will be holding trials from Oct 25- 29 in Jamnagar, in the western state of Gujarat for India’s bid for basic trainers .

This will bring to completion all trials for the imminently required basic trainers for the Indian air force. India is anxious to make a procurement decision by March 2011.

The Request for Proposal is for 75 basic trainers, with a possible additional 106 aircraft to be manufactured by government-owned defense manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) through technology transfer. The contenders include Beechcraft T-6C military trainer, Pilatus PC-7, Grob G-120TP, Airbus Military PZL 130 Orlik and Korea Aerospace KT-1.

The present ageing fleet of over 100 HPT-32 (Hindustan Piston Trainers) have suffered a spurt of crashes, leaving India to depend on its second line of limited trainers.

The Basic Trainer RFP comes with a 30% offsets clause, which Airbus Military says will not be difficult to fulfill in India. “We have signed an MOU with the Mahindra Group for the final assembly line in India,” said Wladyslaw Skorski, Vice President Operations, EADS PZL.

Since Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. will be considered only for the final depot level, according to the RFP, Airbus has also signed MoUs with Maini group for parts and Alpha Group for avionics.

“We have big experience in design of civil and military aircraft,” adds Skorski. Interestingly, India had 76 older variants- PZL TS-11 Iskra trainers- that were withdrawn in 2004.

The challenges in offsets may occur in training and logistics. “The important issue is to train people. We have to control first assemblies in India…We have to convince people not to be too slow nor too fast,” says Skorski. “We see no problems with transfer of technology,” he adds.

The IAF requires its trainers to have a synthetic cockpit to make it similar to the next trainer, no head on display and a service life of 12,000 hours.

EADS PZL is proposing a catapulting procedure simulator for the ejection seat- which is not listed in the RFP.

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