Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has announced the successful flight test of a Dhruv helicopter with two-segmented main rotor blades and a pre-cone main rotor head.
Segmented rotor blades allow folding of the helicopter's main rotor blades, thereby reducing the folded length and width of the helicopter, making it compatible with the hangar space available on most Indian Navy ships. Segmented rotor blades also reduce the time needed for blade folding or unfolding during operations. The Dhruv helicopter test flown was a wheeled version piloted by Wg Cdr Unni Pillai, ED (CTP-RW).
R Madhavan, CMD, HAL, said that the two-segment main rotor blades and pre-cone configuration of the main rotor head were developed to address the stringent stowage dimension requirement specified by the Indian Navy. These new improvements would also improve the time between overhauls and the life of the main gearbox, he said.
Arup Chatterjee, Director (Engg. and R&D), HAL, said the project was carried out in the shortest possible time with the support of the Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA) and the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA).
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard have been operating Dhruv Mk1 helicopters since 2004. However, the ship deck-based operations of ALH have been limited as the stowage size required for ALH exceeds the hanger sizes available in Navy ships.