Hindustan Aeronotics Limited (HAL) will set up mini maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities at forward bases to help in the servicing of Dhruv helicopters (ALH), said its chairman Shri. T Suvarna Raju. He was speaking at a press meet organised by HAL at Aero India 2015 here. “It is our plan to establish mini MROs in around 190 forward bases in the country. This will happen soon, though a time frame has not been set. Once these MROs are established, it will become easier for the maintenance of these helicopters. The Indian Army is our main customer and we are in talks with them on setting up the MROs. The ALH has proved its worth, and all such helicopters in the country have completed around 1.20 lakh flying hours. However, it is unfortunate that an ALH crashed in Ecuador. It is premature to comment about the reason for the accident as a court of inquiry is in progress. However, I would like to assert that the ALH is a good helicopter,” said Raju. Referring to the multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) that is being developed by the HAL and United Aircraft Corporation of Russia, Raju said that it is on a slow path. “There is very slow progress on the MTA front. This is mainly because the Russians have increased the cost by up to three times. The HAL does not agree to this and we have been trying to speak to them. Talks are on and we will have to see how things pan out,” he said. Referring to the progress of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Raju said the technology demonstrator (TD4) will take to the skies in April while the operational clearance will be obtained by September. The final certification will happen by 2017. He also said that a greenfield facility of around 610 acres has been allotted by the Karnataka government for the production of the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). “We will get the required approvals and clearances soon. Though the LUH is a completely indigenous aircraft, we are ready for tie-ups with other countries,” Raju added. Referring to SU-30 MKI aircraft, Raju said that though the aircraft is being manufactured by HAL from the raw material stage to the finished product, some spare parts and aggregates are still being imported from Russia. “Discussions are on so that HAL can become the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for all of the Sukhoi-30’s spare parts,” he added.