Pawan Hans, India's state-owned helicopter operator, is growing its fleet and plans to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul unit and a pilot training facility in response to rising demand for rotorcraft in the country.
It ordered an additional seven Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin helicopters at India Aviation 2010, bringing the total number of the type in its fleet to 33. This makes it the biggest operator of the EADS subsidiary's helicopters in India and the largest Dauphin offshore operator in the world, says Eurocopter.
"Being India's leading helicopter operator, it is our goal to provide immaculate service to all our clients. Our experience with the Dauphin fleet so far has been very promising and we are confident that the new fleet will meet the quality standards that are hallmark for Pawan Hans," says chairman and managing director RK Tyagi. He adds: "We see tremendous opportunity for Pawan Hans in the oil and gas, tourism and corporate travel segments."
Pawan Hans began operating Dauphin helicopters in India in 1986. Its fleet of 43 helicopters is used mainly to transport personnel to offshore oil platforms, for shuttle flights between drill barges and for transport of state officials and VIPs. It also provides charter services for tourists.
Eurocopter and Pawan Hans also announced plans to set up joint ventures for a maintenance, repair and overhaul unit and a pilot training facility in India.
The MRO facility, which will be in either New Delhi or Mumbai, will be dedicated to servicing the fleet of Dauphin helicopters that are operating in the country, says Eurocopter. Pawan Hans is already an approved Dauphin maintenance centre.
The pilot training facility with Pawan Hans will include a full-flight simulator for the AS365N3, adds the company.
"We have shared a very special relationship with Pawan Hans for the past 24 years, and are very happy to further strengthen this association. Through these joint ventures we wish to come closer to the Indian customers and serve them better," says Marie-Agnes Veve, head of Eurocopter in India.
"We will now be able to provide even better support, service and fleet safety solutions to the Indian market. Also, seeing the need for trained helicopter pilots in India, we look forward to supporting the country in meeting this need."
Veve adds that Eurocopter sees great potential for growth in India, and company officials say that it could manufacture components and maybe even assemble helicopters there eventually.
"The Indian aviation industry is witnessing tremendous growth. The aviation sector has become more receptive to new models and state of the art technology. State governments, commercial helicopter operators and leading corporates are now using our helicopters. We are receiving an increasing number of inquiries from various business houses. This is very encouraging," says Veve.