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- Turbine Workshop

 
Turbine Workshop:

One of the last of eight Lamas still actively used in Switzerland



The Aérospatiale SA-315 Lama is a light multipurpose helicopter. It’s been originally designed by the French manufacturer Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) for the Indian Air Force, in particularly for assignments in high and hot environments. The Lama still holds the certificated altitude world record for helicopters of 40’820 ft and over years enjoyed the renown nickname ’’workhorse of aviation’’. It is still an adequate helicopter being used for rescue missions in extreme and mountainous surroundings. Reconditionings and date inspections of the Lamas engine have been offered by TUAG in Arbon up until 2015.


Last privately owned Alouette III, ex. Swiss Air Force, flying in Switzerland



The Swiss Air Force purchased between 1964 – 1972 a total of 84 Alouettes, 60 have been manufactured in Switzerland under licence. The Helicopter stood out for its multi capable use and its abilities in mountainous environments for over 46 years in service, until its decommission from active duty in 2010. Ever since the first few helicopters were bought, Saurer Werke (later TUAG) supplied for engine services and maintenance.


Both the SA 316 Alouette and the SA 315 B Lama have been equipped with the Artouste III B turbine and has been continuously improved ever since. Over time the amount of qualified engine workshops for the Artouste decreased internationally, leaving only TUAG after the turn of the millennium. TUAG ceased their support for the last Artouste workshop in 2015. Today, there are no more qualified workshops supporting the Artouste III B turbine. This means, if the last date inspection of an Artouste was made in 2015, then both the Alouette and the Lama will have their last ever flight in 2030.


Installed engine Lama HB-XMC



Longitudinal cut Artouste III B engine

Without a turbine workshop both helicopter types are endangered to go instinct. When executing a date inspection, the whole turbine is dismantled and examined, regardless of its amount of operation hours. Every component is cleaned and inspected, while gaskets are replaced. Without the 15-year recurring overhaul, operating safety for the only permitted engine of the Alouette and Lama is not guaranteed. Continuous deployment of the helicopters would only be possible by acquiring a historical category licence. Commercial usage will be lost pending the category change, due to failing to uphold set standards by ICAO, EASA, FAA and the manufacturer. For an owner of an Alouette or Lama this means:



  • As soon as a major repair or overhaul is due, the helicopter must be written off (unless a replacement engine is found). This has considerable financial consequences for the company and its staff.

  • An operationally unique and valuable helicopter may stand still from one day to the next.

  • Our company is also affected. We only have one engine left open for about 110 hours until its overhaul. Also, we have another one, which still has about 1'000 hours open until the overhaul. However, this has expired and needs a partial disassembly before it can be used again with de-preservation.

 

How the project emerged:

After initially hearing about TUAG giving up on their turbine workshop, business manager Roland Triet, thinking about his own helicopters, came up with the idea to continue this highly necessary workshop and promptly contacted key personnel of the company.

The following talks provided interesting insights, many confirmed their support for the realisation of his project. One of the
manager on site also mentioned: "That would be something for you - you can do it"!

Immediate measures already taken:

  • Orderly handover and dismantling of test bench

   
Control station of the turbine test bench



Test bench before disassembly



   
Control desk cabling before dismantling



Water brake and test bench bed are dismantled



   
Loading onto trucks on a sunny dry day


Safe transport of accessoires



  • Takeover / purchase of the still existing TUAG workshop inventory by the end of 2015, including the complete heatable cleaning baths, a drying oven, the associated electrical control cabinet, baths, exhaust fans, grates and various chrome steel shelves

 
 

 
Turbines at Helicopter Service Triet



  • In 2014 and 2015 there were still five Swiss Army turbines to buy that had already been passed on and were in private hands. We bought them because they are complete, in good condition and interesting for the planned project. They provide the opportunity of additional spare parts at our disposal, making replacement or rental engines available if required. Of course, only after recertification.

 

Hall Helicopter Service Triet AG


Experience and education project manager:

Roland Triet has been working with Artouste as a helicopter mechanic and controller since 1980. He flew about 1479 hours on Lama and Alouette. He also possesses an ID card for mechanical components.

Next steps:

A business plan has been created and we are currently looking for investors.


 

Airport St. Gallen - Altenrhein, CH-9423 Altenrhein, Tel. +41 (0)71 855 70 10 Fax. +41 (0)71 855 70 11

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