Delay in decision on airframe angers manufacturers, which warn of integration problems

General Electric has been tentatively selected to supply the powerplant for a new army utility helicopter being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

Industry sources say the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the government organisation in charge of selecting an engine for the Korea Helicopter Programme (KHP), is recommending the GE T700 over the LHTEC T800 and Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6.

Meanwhile, sources say Israel’s Elbit Systems has been tentatively selected by the Agency for Defence Development over BAE Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries to help KAI integrate the aircraft’s mission equipment. This contract will also require Elbit to help Samsung Thales and Nex1Future develop mission computers.

The engine and system integration selections, which still require defence ministry approval before they are formally announced, conclude the first of several competitions between foreign companies interested in supplying components for the 6,800kg (15,000lb) helicopter. Most of the components require licence production or co-production.

Samsung Techwin will locally produce the engine. Nex1Future will develop the radar-warning receiver and multifunction display, while Samsung Thales will develop the laser-warning receiver and control display unit, but foreign partners for these components have not yet been selected.

The decision to move forward with the selection of the engine and other major components before an airframe partner selection is finalised has infuriated some manufacturers, which warn of forthcoming integration problems. Potential vendors say the competitions are being run on an overly aggressive schedule in an attempt to meet an unrealistic goal of first production aircraft delivery in 2011.


Source: Flight International