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 Turbo Power
 HAL selects the Turbomeca Shakti engine over the LHTEC CTS-800

By Atul Chandra

Chairman HAL, R.K. TyagiHindustan Aeronautics Limited's (HAL) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) will now fly with Turbomeca's Shakti 1U engine, a derivative of the Shakti 1H1 engine used on Dhruv. Turbomeca has emerged as the successful bidder in the global tender process over the Rolls Royce Honeywell LHTEC CTS-800 engine. Selection of the engine was the main constraint in the progress of the project which is now in the final stage.

HAL received its formal project sanction in February 2009, and early plans called for Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) to be achieved by February, 2014. This was projected based on the assumption that the Shakti Engine used in the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) would also be used in the LUH after due development and certification. This was not the case and after problems cropped up, HAL had to go through the entire engine selection again through a global tender process.

Now that Turbomeca has emerged the winner, the IOC is planned to be obtained by 2017, and HAL is looking to build all 187 helicopters in seven years. This would mean that deliveries would be complete by 2024-25. No Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters are planned to be built and the LUH will directly enter series production after the three prototypes are built and test flown.

The Shakti 1U engine’s Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) will have control system software which will be specifically developed by Turbomeca for matching its single engine application on the LUH. The helicopter will feature a dual channel FADEC along with an additional back up channel to provide extra safety margin for single engine operation (an important feature at high altitudes). Turbomeca will also develop the back up control and perform other minor modifications as required by HAL. HAL's light helicopter will have an advantage over older designs as it will feature a highly agile rotor system and composite rotor blades for low maintenance. Critical aspects like the rotor system, transmission, engine and glass cockpit are state-of-the-art designs. This is important when you consider that the LUH will be in service till at least 2050, if not more!

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