AgustaWestland is a step closer to establishing its much-anticipated joint venture manufacturing business in India with local conglomerate Tata Sons.

The companies have signed "a shareholders' agreement for formation of the Indian joint venture company that will establish a final assembly line for the AW119 helicopter for the world market", they say. The announcement follows the signature of a memorandum of understanding in February 2009.

The partnership is due to produce its first AW119 in time for delivery next year, they add, with the aim of increasing production to a rate of 30 helicopters a year. The AW119 is an eight-seat utility helicopter powered by a turboshaft engine.

 AW119 - AgustaWestland
© AgustaWestland

"It is envisaged that the joint venture will be a supplier for the current reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter programme of the Indian armed forces, for which AgustaWestland has already proposed the AW119 to be manufactured in India," the European company says.

The joint venture "will be responsible for AW119 final assembly, completion and delivery, while AgustaWestland will retain responsibility for worldwide marketing and sales," it adds.

India is looking to buy 197 new light utility helicopters, with other candidates including the Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec and the Kamov Ka-226.

 AS550C3 - Eurocopter
© Céline Simonpaoli/Eurocopter
Eurocopter is offering its AS550C3 for Indian military requirements

AgustaWestland did not mention where the new assembly line will be located, but in late 2008 Tata disclosed that it was seeking approval to establish a manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Hyderabad in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

Tata is one of India's most famous conglomerates, with businesses in various sectors such as car manufacturing, steel plants and information technology. In recent years it has expanded into aerospace manufacturing by signing deals with Boeing to manufacture components and with Sikorsky to produce helicopter cabins. The company was unavailable for further comment on the new pact.

Source: Flight International