Quietly and efficiently, Indian aerospace companies are spreading their wings across the globe. Indeed, aerospace is all set to become the next sunrise sector for India after Information Technology (IT) and Biotechnology. Of course, for long the state owned Indian aeronautical major HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) was synonymous with the Indian aerospace industry. And in a development of significance, Mahindra Gipps Aero, the Australia based arm of Mahindra Aerospace, is preparing to roll out its 10 seater GA-10 aircraft in North America, Australia and Africa by the end of this year. GA-10 can be used for wide ranging applications –from carrying passengers and freight to survey and surveillance. Mahindra Group, the parent company of Mahindra Aerospace, had in 2010 acquired 75% stake each in Gippsland Aeronautics (Gipps Aero), which produces GA series of utility aircraft and Aerostaff Australia, a manufacturer of high precision aircraft components and aerospace assemblies.
Currently, Mahindra Aerospace is looking at getting certification for CNM-5, the fiver seater aircraft the company has been developing in association with the Bangalore based National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). As it is, Gipps Aero is the focal point for the design and production of aircraft structures for the flying prototypes, ground test, assemblies and certification. This five seater civilian aircraft happens to be the first aerospace product of India's private-public partnership. It will be certified for day and night operations under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) as well as Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). According to Shyam Chetty, Director, NAL, it is planned to get the plane certified in Australia as a prelude to its clearance by India’s civil aviation regulator, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The interiors of CNM-5 can be reconfigured for a variety of roles including cargo, charter, air taxi, casualty evacuation and private use. This aircraft is said to be ideally suited for short haul air taxi operations. Certification of the C-NM5 would help Mahindra Aerospace on the road to becoming a globally recognised manufacturer of general aviation aircraft. Incidentally, CNM-5 project became a Mahindra Aerospace portfolio after Mahindra Group acquired Bangalore based engineering firm Plexion in 2007. Plexion was in a joint venture with NAL to build a five seater civilian plane.
On another front, Mahindra Aerospace is planning to enter the global aerospace market with a focus on the supply of aircraft wings, ailerons, rudder and fuselage. To this end, it has already entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Aernnova group of Spain, which is a well known Tier-1 supplier of aero structures to global OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). Sources in Mahindra Aerospace also point out that it is aiming to capture a significant share of the Indian defence aerospace market.
Significantly, the commissioning of its aero structures production facility in October last at Narasapur Industrial area, about 50-kms from Bangalore, is set to give a boost to the ambitions of Mahindra Aerospace that is keen on turning India from a “global consumer of aviation products to the global producer”. According to Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group, this state of the art manufacturing facility will give a boost to Mahindra Aerospace’s mission of “strengthening Indian place in the global aero-structures supply chain.” This facility will initially focus on manufacturing smaller parts and sub assemblies as a prelude to ramping up to the production of larger and more complex assemblies in the future.
According to Hemant Luthra, President of Mahindra Systech, which is responsible for the aerospace business of the group, “this facility demonstrates our commitment to aerospace and for strengthening our domestic eco system”. Luthra was also quick to make the point that “with our strength in aerospace engineering, we would like to progress from the build to print towards design to delivery offerings in the future”.