India’s latest national budget holds a special gift for aspiring helicopter pilots.
The nation’s finance minister, Shri P. Chidambaram, has eliminated the import taxes on simulators used for helicopter training. That should help drop the cost of training in India, a helpful move considering the expected increasing demand for rotorcraft pilots in the near future.
According to some reports, India has about 175 helicopters and fewer than 300 pilots. The number of helicopers is expected to rise by 100 aircraft a year through 2013. If adequate flight-crew support of that fleet requires three pilots to a helicopter, India would need 300 more pilots a year over that time.
Industry officials expect that the elimination of the tariff could mean a 10-15 percent decrease in the cost of training those pilots. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. is working with CAE on a new training academy, which HAL officials said is to get its first simulator later this year. Bell Helicopter also is considering setting up a training academy in India.
The French manufacturer Hélicoptères Guimbal is looking to take on Robinson Helicopter Co. for a piece of the piston-powered helicopter trainer market. It has powerful support for that fight in the form of Eurocopter.
That market today is dominated by Robinson’s R22, but Guimbal is vying to win a share of it with its two-seat piston Cabri G2. That aircraft made its first flight three years ago, and in December received a type certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency. It is powered by a 145-hp Lycoming O-360 J2A and has a max takeoff weight of 1,540 lb.
The company was launched by a former Eurocopter engineer, and has a joint venture with Eurocopter to develop unmanned rotorcraft. Eurocopter has ordered one Cabri and taken options for two. It plans to use the aircraft for ab initio training at its training centers. It could order up to 20.