South Korea will redesign the parts of its Surion helicopter which recently failed to pass an extreme climate performance that would allow it to be sold to more customers around the world, the military and manufacturer said Friday.
In a months-long test conducted in the United States, the Surion utility helicopter failed to operate properly under a set of very challenging humid and freezing temperatures. Several parts in Surion didn't meet the international standard, an official at the Korea Aerospace Industries said. KAI is South Korea's sole manufacturer of aircraft.
The Surion helicopter reportedly didn't pass the test carried out to see the impact of ice generated during flight under humid and freezing conditions on the engine and several other components.
"We are planning to redesign the failed parts and put them under the same test again. Passing the test is essential to better exporting the Surion helicopter," the official told Yonhap News Agency, asking not to be named.
A Defense Acquisition Program Administration official in charge of the matter was not immediately available for comment.
KAI has supplied some 50 Surion choppers to the Army which has a long-term plan to operate 200 Surions. More than 90 Surions are being built at KAI's manufacturing facility in Sacheon, 437 kilometers south of Seoul.
As for the 50 Surions already with the Army, the KAI official said, "their flights and operations will be regulated due to safety concerns, particularly in areas or climates where the temperature falls to more than five degrees below zero coupled with a certain level of humidity."
KAI plans to continue to build the 90 Surions in Sacheon and will replace the parts that didn't meet the standards with the updated ones later, he said.
DAPA and KAI said they will come up with the upgraded parts as the country seeks to expand into the global defense industry markets to support a slowing growth in Asia's fourth-biggest economy.
So far, KAI has exported US$3.4 billion worth of its aircraft such as the KT-1 basic trainers and the T-50 advanced trainer jets to emerging markets such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The state-run Korea Development Bank owns a controlling 19.02 percent stake in KAI, followed by the Export-Import Bank of Korea with 7.73 percent and the National Pension Service with 9.40 percent. (Yonhap)