Tuesday, October 05, 2021

HAL rechristens made-in-India Dornier 228 as Hindustan 228, starts work on hybrid electric flying machines

New Delhi: Hybrid electric flying machines, high payload drones, light utility helicopter (LUH) and high altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS) could soon increase state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) presence in civil aviation space.

Its made-in-India Dornier 228, which Alliance Air will use for regional flights in Arunachal Pradesh, is being rechristened as Hindustan 228 and could soon be flying in foreign skies also with that name as queries for the same have come from buyers from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the aerospace behemoth’s CMD, R Madhavan, told TOI Tuesday.

“We have started the process of getting European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for our 8-seater (2 pilots, six passengers) LUH. Four prototypes of this helicopter are already flying for user evaluation (on the defence side) and we are expecting an order from the defence side soon. Once EASA certification comes after a lengthy process, this chopper will be made in India for civil use not just in India but abroad too,” Madhavan said. On the civil side, HAL sees scope for this chopper for purposes like highway assistance and medical evacuations as its spacious cabin can have up to six stretchers.

HAL has started work on drones with payloads of over 8 kg. “We are looking at big drones, including those that can carry payloads of 200 and 2,000 kg. Work is on two categories — medium-altitude, long-endurance (Male) and high altitude, long-endurance (Hale). For the 2,000 kg payload drone, we have tied up with Israel’s Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Elop Ltd. These drones will also be offered to civil uses like e-commerce deliveries,” he said.

The aerospace major is currently exploring technologies for hybrid-electric propulsion systems. “We are looking at hybrid transmission drives. Once we zero on a suitable technology, we will examine whether it should be used on a plane or chopper. This is work in progress, but that work is on,” he said.

05/10/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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