Bizcraft Builders Set Sights On India

 - March 3, 2013, 2:15 AM

Though largely overshadowed by a heavy military presence, the business aviation sector made its voice heard at last month’s Aero India show in Bangalore (February 6 to 10). Serious obstacles continue to stand in the way of those trying to fulfill bizav’s undoubted potential in this vast emerging market (see box), but this has not deterred the major manufacturers from increasing their presence in India.

During the show Embraer signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mumbai-based Indamer to provide maintenance support for the Legacy 500. The midsize jet, which is expected to enter service next year, is currently in the flight-test stage following last year’s maiden flight of the first prototype. Certification now is expected by the middle of next year, according to Jose Eduardo Costas, vice president of sales and marketing with Embraer Executive Jets.

To date, the Brazilian manufacturer has delivered 18 of its business jets to India, including three Legacy 650s that arrived last year. This represents more than 10 percent of the Indian-registered fleet of just over 160 aircraft.

Indamer is one of an initial 17 service centers worldwide to sign MoUs with Embraer to provide Legacy support. The company already offers line and base maintenance for all of Embraer’s business aircraft in India today. It is now one of two authorized service providers for Embraer in India (Air Works Engineering is the other). Last September, Embraer established a parts depot in Bangalore to improve its response time for operators needing spares.

At Aero India Embraer displayed examples of its Phenom, Legacy and Lineage series. A company spokesman told AIN the company is optimistic about adding to its market share if Indian customers follow trends previously seen in other developing markets where early adopters graduate from smaller to larger aircraft as their needs change.

Embraer expects the Asia-Pacific region to account for between 1,035 and 1,580 business jets worth between $32 billion and $48 billion in the next decade. “In South Asia, we do still expect India to make up the bulk of the orders for the region,” said the spokesman.

In addition to its Rafale fighter, which has been selected as India’s new medium multi-role combat aircraft, Dassault Aviation displayed pair of Falcon 7X trijets at Aero India, along with a Falcon 900LX and a 2000S. The latter two aircraft feature the new FalconCabin HD+ cabin management system.

Approximately 20 Falcons are based in India, and last fall Dassault opened a new Falcon liaison office in New Dehli, at the same time appointing a Falcon sales manager to boost its Indian marketing team. Last July, Mumbai-based Taj Air was named a Falcon authorized line service station at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. The facility provides scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and inspections for the Falcon 2000 series and holds a parts inventory.

Previously, Dassault had appointed Air Works India as an authorized service center for the Falcon 900EX, with spares distribution bases in both Mumbai and Chennai. The OEM has also established a technical field office in Mumbai.

“The Indian market is becoming more conducive to consistent growth and the investments in our support network will place us in an excellent position to benefit in the future,” said Dassault Falcon president and CEO John Rosanvallon.

Cessna sees growing demand in India for both its Caravans and Citations and brought examples of both to Aero India. The U.S. manufacturer believes that business applications for the aircraft will increase in response to anticipated government reforms intended to improve infrastructure and free up market access.

“India is expected to be among the world’s fastest-growing economies this year and stands to benefit hugely from the national expansion of business aviation, both for domestic and international travel,” said Bill Harris, sales vice president for Asia and Asia-Pacific. “Cessna is optimistic that legislative and regulatory reforms this year will remove several barriers to India’s aircraft market development.”

The Caravan turboprop single is being offered in India for a variety of business, utility and scheduled commuter applications, for which its ability to operate with minimal ground infrastructure is an advantage. “One of India’s pressing needs is to improve intrastate air links, and the Caravan can cope with the most demanding terrain and is perfectly suited to the extremes of Indian weather,” said Harris. “With the launch of the more powerful Grand Caravan EX last year, Cessna is better placed than ever to offer tough aircraft that keep going under the harshest conditions.”

Hawker Beechcraft announced the appointment of Ted Farid as sales vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, which spans all of North and South Asia, including India. Farid joined Hawker Beechcraft in 1996 and has most recently served as senior vice president for international sales and new business development. He will continue to be based at company headquarters in Wichita. Hawker Beech exhibited a Beechcraft King Air 350i at the Aero India show, reflecting its plans to emerge from bankruptcy protection with only its turboprop portfolios.

Meanwhile, Mahindra Aerospace, currently India’s only manufacturer of light aircraft for private/utility use, is preparing to open a new 270,000-sq-ft facility near Bangalore. This will be used for manufacturing metal components, aircraft assemblies and aerostructures, according to executive director and global CEO Arvind Mehra.

The company is part of a public-private partnership with the Bangalore-based, government-backed National Aerospace Laboratories, which is developing the CNM5 light utility aircraft. This program is currently seeking an Australian type certificate.

Mahindra is also involved in developing the GippsAero GA10 turboprop single, scheduled to complete certification next year.

Mahindra Aerospace, which is part of the major Indian industrial group of the same name, acquired Australia’s Gippsland Aeronautics in December 2009. The company is expanding in North America and Europe, where it recently appointed distributors for the GA8 Airvan, its mainstay utility aircraft. It also is developing the GA18, an 18-seat twin turboprop based on the GAF Nomad.

Gulfstream and Pilatus also exhibited at Aero India.