Pilatus Aircraft has signed a 10-year contract with Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) for the Indian company to supply PC-12 NG aerostructures. Tata will replace existing supplier PZL-Swidnik of Poland. This is India’s first major private partnership, and results from the 30-percent offset obligation (worth about $165 million) that Pilatus incurred in its sale of 75 PC-7 Mk II trainers to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Previously mandated cash transactions for aircraft fuel purchases at India’s general aviation airports will now give way to credit cards as part of Airport Authority India’s (AAI) attempt to provide hassle-free operations for business aircraft operators. This follows the installation of a cellular-data-enabled electronic transaction facility this week at the last of India’s 93 domestic airports, Hyderabad Begumpet Airport.
Infrastructure and regulatory issues continue to stifle general aviation in India, and for the first time in a decade the industry contracted by one percent last year, according to Rohit Kapur, president of the country’s Business Aviation Operators Association (BAOA).
Kapur told a press conference at this week’s India Aviation show in Hyderabad that 13 aircraft were imported into the country last year and 19 were sold.
A depressed Indian economy and a weakened rupee this year have made attendance for international visitors cost effective, although not for domestic companies that are increasingly cutting costs. In the absence of anticipated airliner orders, business aviation is expected to enjoy a high profile in Hyderabad this week, with several new contracts expected.
India’s own medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS has experienced another delay, with first flight now expected toward the end of next year. A senior official from the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) told AIN that the Rustom-2 project has suffered from lack of access to technology for sensors and engines. “Requirements for ISR are huge in India, given threats from the border. However, Hale, micro and nano UAVs require powerful algorithms. That is where we require help,” added V.S.
Mahindra Aerospace, currently India’s only manufacturer of light aircraft for private/utility use, is preparing to open its 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.
After failing to reach an agreement with striking engineers and pilots who have not been paid since March this year, India’s Kingfisher Airlines has effectively grounded itself until at least October 12 by locking out staff. Kingfisher’s management, led by owner Vijay Mallya, is trying to renegotiate some $2.49 billion in debt with creditors while it struggles with serious cash-flow problems, evidenced by $1.9 billion in losses for the first half of this year.
India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) is threatening legal action against financial penalties imposed since July 1 by Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) on transient aircraft parked at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport beyond an agreed number of days. The penalty is seven times more than the present cost of parking, BAOA said.
The airport, which cannot be expanded beyond its single runway, has been a concern for many years as commercial and business aviation traffic has increased. A second airport is at least seven years away from completion.
After years of frustration, India’s business aviation community is hoping that a new report due to be published in April will trigger a sea change in government policy toward the industry. A team of representatives from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation is preparing for business and general aviation in India a blueprint that is expected to form the foundation for a more transparent and consistent approach to both regulating and stimulating the industry.
Textron Defense Systems will start production of India’s order for 512 CBU-105 sensor fuzed weapons (SFW) soon. The $257.7 million sale was contracted via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales mechanism in November 2010. Encouraged by India’s continuing move away from reliance on Russian weapons, Textron is now marketing other defense systems in the country.
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