Hindustan Aeronatics (HAL) plans to establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) joint venture with US MRO firm Timco Aviation Services but it is unclear when the JV will start.
Timco says in a statement that the parties have fully ratified the agreement but HAL general manager planning (corporate office), Naresh Babu, told me via telephone a few moments ago that the agreement signed is a memorandum of understanding.
In other words, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done before the deal is firmed up. Babu was unable to say when a final contract will be signed but he confirmed most of the other info in Timco's statement is correct.
Timco says the JV will be based at HAL's Bangalore manufacturing complex and it will focus on doing 'C-checks' for Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.
HAL already does heavy maintenance checks on 737s but Babu says it only does heavy maintenance checks on one or two 737s at a time.
The new JV will ramp up considerably so that HAL will be able to compete for larger maintenance contracts and serve airlines with larger fleets, says Babu.
Currently HAL has very few 737 customers but it has done heavy maintenance checks for Indian low-cost carrier JetLite and Babu says it hopes to retain JetLite as a customer.
Having JetLite could help the JV to secure work from JetLite's larger parent, Jet Airways.
Babu says HAL also decided to team up with Timco because the US MRO can help the Indian JV to get FAA and EASA certification. Timco will also be helping to finance the JV and bring in customers from overseas, he adds.
HAL knows it has to work fast to ensure it gains a strong position in India's commercial MRO industry before competitors move in. The Indian firm has a strong presence in India in terms of manufacturing but other MROs are moving in quickly to cash in on the country's growing airline industry.