Bangalore: In what could be the biggest aircraft engine-sourcing contract from India, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is in talks with aero-engine maker Honeywell International Inc. to manufacture more than 1,000 small plane engines locally for the global market.
HAL, the state-run defence aircraft maker, expects a contract to be signed in March for the engines of Honeywell that power small turbo-prop planes such as Jetstream of BAE Systems Plc. and Island Hopper of Integrity Aircraft Holdings Ltd Corp., both of which can carry around 20 passengers.
So far, the Indian aerospace firm has been exporting sub- systems, forgings and components for engines through its equal joint venture in Bangalore with Snecma of France— Snecma-HAL Aerospace Pvt. Ltd—set up in 2005.
“This will be the first major contract to source engines,” said an HAL executive, who did not wish to be identified. He did not disclose the value of the contract.
A spokesperson of the aerospace division for Honeywell confirmed the talks, but did not elaborate citing that a contract is yet to be signed. The Honeywell engines will be made in Bangalore, where HAL is based.
The Honeywell engine, labelled TPE331-12, used to power civil aircraft is priced at around $350,000, or Rs1.39 crore, according to a US military website. Honeywell did not respond to an email on the cost.
Nearly 13,000 such engines have been sold since 1965 for use in regional airlines, utility and agricultural aircraft, said a note on Honeywell’s site.
Honeywell continues to ship new TPE331s for various new applications and offers upgrade kits for each such engine, it said.
HAL currently produces under licence Honeywell’s TPE331-15 engine to power the Dornier DO-228 passenger planes it makes for the Indian Armed Forces.
It does not sell these engines to other customers. It also produces fighter aircraft and helicopter engines under licence from firms such as Britain’s Rolls Royce Plc. and Turbomeca of France.
HAL plans to use local vendors it has groomed to build components and systems for the Honeywell engines to be sold in the global market.
“We would do the project management, testing and ensuring quality and delivery,” said the executive.
Last September, HAL signed a pact with Pratt and Whitney of US to co-develop and convert FT-4000 aero engine to generate electricity.
The engine, to be named as FT-4000, is expected to generate 55MW in a single pack and 110MW in a twin pack, and the American company would handle the first phase of development, HAL had said in December.
The company also signed an agreement in November 2006 with Rolls Royce, for collaboration in component design, manufacturing, assembly and engine enhancement upgrade programmes.
But no work related to this has been taken up so far, the HAL executive said.