Indian conglomerate Tata took another step towards establishing itself as a major player in the country's aerospace industry after signing an agreement with Sikorsky to manufacture S-92 helicopter cabins.
The facility will be built at a greenfield site in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh state. Tata Advanced Systems, a subsidiary of the holding firm Tata Sons, will lead the project. The first cabin from the plant is expected to be delivered in late 2010.
"We're excited and proud to have the highly admired Tata Group join our global supply chain," says Jeffrey Pino, president of United Technologies subsidiary Sikorsky. "India's aerospace market is poised for significant growth, and we are thrilled to have the opportunities to support that growth and to tap into the capabilities of India's highly skilled aerospace workforce."
Davinder Kumar, chief executive of Tata Advanced Systems, says: "The contract represents a significant step forward in Tata Advanced Systems' plans to establish a meaningful presence in the manufacture of aerostructures. We believe the combination of Tata's manufacturing capabilities and skill sets, and India's productivity benefits, can deliver tremendous efficiencies for aerospace OEMs."
The facility will be in an economic zone dedicated to the aerospace industry. India has been promoting the zones to boost its manufacturing base, with the companies that invest in them given tax breaks and other incentives.
Tata, one of India's oldest and most famous business houses, has wide-ranging interests including car manufacturing, steel production and IT services. The company helped set up national carrier Air India. Tata Sons chairman, Ratan Tata, is an aviation buff and pilot.
Since 2007, Tata has signed deals with several Western companies, including one to manufacture components for Boeing and another to produce helicopter cabins for Sikorsky.
Industry sources say that the company is keen to move into full-scale aircraft assembly and production in both the civil and military markets. This would put it in direct competition with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics, which is now the only Indian company with the facilities to produce aircraft.
Sikorsky says that the S-92 helicopter is the first in its class to be certificated by the US Federal Aviation Administration. It also is certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Close to 100 S-92s have been produced to date. They are operated worldwide in search and rescue, VIP transport and offshore transport roles.
One of the four UK Maritime Coastguard Agency search and rescue-configured S-92s has reached the operational milestone of 1,000 flight hours. The operation is performed by CHC Helicopter from two bases in Scotland - Stornoway, on the Western Isles and Sumburgh in the Shetland Islands - and covers territory in the North Atlantic and the North Sea.