HAL to partner for regional jets

Tuesday, 30 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: India's state-run aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will partner with an international consortium to make short haul jet aircraft for the growing civilian market.

Emerging as a global partner for joint production of defence and civilian aircraft from being a mere buyer or overhauling player, HAL will be part of a global consortium to produce the next-generation regional jets.

"We will invest about $100 million for 10 percent equity in the consortium being formed with NPO Saturn of Russia, Snecma and Thales of France and Boeing of the US for producing the jets with a combination of 65-75-95 seats," HAL's outgoing chairman N.R. Mohanty told a small group of reporters here Tuesday.

"We see great potential for regional aircraft in the existing and emerging markets with the revival of the civil aviation sector post-9/11.

"The demand for such aircraft in countries like India, China and Russia will be substantial in the coming years."

A preliminary market survey by HAL on behalf of the Russian regional jet (RRJ) project has estimated the global demand to be about 250 short-haul aircraft by 2007 and over 500 by 2010.

The Sukhoi design bureau of NPO Saturn will design and develop the prototype, with SM-146 engines from Snecma, avionics from Thales, body and certification by Boeing, while HAL will make airframe modules.

The regional aircraft is proposed to be made in Russia.

HAL has been involved over the last five decades in making and overhauling military aircraft, with the Indian Air Force (IAF) as its prime customer.

But it has of late forayed into the civilian sector with its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to tap the global market for defence as well as civil variants.

Last week HAL had signed a contract with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) for supplying initially one civil variant of the ALH, christened Dhruv.

Even while producing the ALH for the Indian defence services and the Coast Guard in large numbers, HAL has embarked on rolling out its civilian variant for the domestic and international markets.

Besides supplying 35 ALHs to India's air force, army and navy during the past two years, HAL exported two civilian variants to Nepal last year.

On the status of the deal signed by HAL with Russia's Irkut Corporation for jointly producing multi-role transport aircraft (MTA), Mohanty said the company was waiting to hear from its counterpart on the requirement for the Russian defence and civilian markets.

"We have finalised the project to jointly manufacture the MTA Il-214. The Indian requirement is estimated to be about 45 for such aircraft, initially. The Russian requirement is not yet known.

"But once we get the order, we are ready to go ahead," Mohanty said.

To be built primarily for the Russian and Indian markets, the aircraft is being targeted to replace the ageing An-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the obsolete An-12 and An-26 transports of the Russian defence forces.

During the last Aero India show in February 2003, HAL inked a pact with Irkut, the leading Russian aircraft manufacturing consortium, to jointly design, develop and produce the MTA for defence and civilian needs, including passenger and cargo.

The $500-million Irkut Corporation is closely associated with HAL in the production of the twin-seat Su-30MKI jets and upgrading 18 Su-30K fighters, originally delivered to the IAF by the Sukhoi Design Bureau.

Source: IANS
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