By Sangeeta Saxena

New Delhi. 10 April 2018For a journalist who was there seeing the inception of the engine MRO industry in India when, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed a MOU with French engine maker Safran, to form a joint venture company for maintenance , repair and overhaul of the 500 plus strong fleet of Safran engines used by the Indian defence and para-military force, it is exciting to know that the venture is up and about. It was with real fanfare that the two companies signed at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow at the HAL chalet and the same enthusiasm is evident in the JV two years since.

At present HE-MRO is providing Level 1 & 2 support services to the armed forces for their TM333 and Shakti engines. The first maintenance center of the JV will be operational in Bangalore over the next quarter. Going ahead, HE-MRO will begin construction of its Level 4, repair facility  at Goa and this state of the art infrastructure should be up and running in 2019.

“The Indian military rotorcraft market is poised for massive growth and reliable MRO services will be the need of the hour. The creation of HE-MRO is a step in this direction. With almost a 1000 engines already in operation, the JV is rapidly gaining the relevant experience and credibility with the end user. Once the ‘deep repair’ facility will be operational in Goa, the end user will be exposed to the entire gamut of world-class services that this JV is capable of bringing to the table,” said Ankur Gupta Vice President- Commercial & Business Development.

HE-MRO, an Indian company, is an equal stakes JV of M/s HAL and M/S Safran Helicopter Engines, France. This JV was formed in 2016 and is backed by the experience and investments of both OEMs. M/s HAL is the largest supplier of rotorcraft and M/s SAFRAN Helicopter Engines has over 1,000 engines in use with the Indian Armed Forces. The main aim of the JV is to enhance the reliability and availability of the military rotorcraft fleet and hopes to bring world-class learning from other geographies to India.

Looking into the future, the addressable market for the JV is going to grow exponentially. Some of the prospective programs on the horizon are the Ka-226; the indigenous LUH; and the twin naval programs, NUH and NMRH. In each of these programs, HE-MRO is uniquely positioned to not only add value to these programs but also contribute towards the indigenous content requirements.

Not limiting itself to the military domain, HE-MRO is also actively pursuing MRO opportunities in the civil aerospace market as well and this represents a potential export market.

This is not the first partnership between the two aerospace majors. In 2005 Safran Aircraft Engines and HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) teamed up to create an equally-owned joint venture in Bangalore, southern India, to produce pipes for aero-engines.The plant includes 2,000 square meters of state-of-the-art machine shops, plus another 400 square meters of offices. It deploys a wide range of manufacturing processes, including bending, flaring, orbital TIG welding, induction brazing, EDM drilling, X-ray and dye penetrant inspection and testing.

The then Defence Minister  Manohar Parrikar inaugurated Helicopter Engines Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Pvt. Limited (HE-MRO) at Sattari District, North Goa, in October 2016.

The JV definitely promises to be the cynosure of all eyes at the upcoming Defexpo at Chennai.