Thales to set up avionics centre in India

Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: With Indian airlines companies set to buy as many as 400 new aircraft over the next few years, French defense, aerospace and electronics major Thales has decided to set up a modern avionics center in the country early next year.

The company also announced that some new aircraft of Kingfisher Airlines will be fitted with its in-flight entertainment system with features like digital audio and video-on-demand on every seat in both economy and upper class sections.

"We already have a contract with Air India for providing in-flight entertainment (IFL) systems in 23 new Boeing aircraft. Now, we have signed a similar agreement with Kingfisher," Francois Dupont, Thales country director for India, said.

"We also expect a similar order from another low-cost carrier IndiGo, which will take the size of our order book for IFL to $160 million. We hope to have a 90-percent market share in in-flight entertainment in India," said Dupont.

Called the Thales TopSeries system, the equipment for Air India comes with a 23-inch display for the first class, 15-inch screen for business class and 10.6-inch model for economy seats -- all with touch-screen operations.

Regarding the avionics center, Dupont said though the size of investment will be around $5-7 million, it will be an important development for India and part of Thales' strategy to be a "multi-domestic company" in markets it operates in.

As opposed to a multinational group, a multi-domestic company seeks to become a local player in the markets it operates in and make it a world-class center.

"Roughly, around 60 percent of the avionics in Airbus aircraft and 15 percent in Boeings are fitted with avionics from Thales. We have decided on the center, but exploring whether it will be in Delhi or in Mumbai," Dupont said.

The center will provide maintenance and support in areas like integrated modular avionics solutions, cockpit display systems, flight management systems, flight control systems, communications, navigation and surveillance systems.

"The unit will have around 40-50 high-end engineers to begin with. If we decide to make it a regional center - catering to other markets in Asia - then we will add some more people," Dupont added.

The global giant had recently set up a software development center in Chennai with around 50 people, which is proposed to be expanded with a headcount of 500 professionals by end-2007, Dupont said.

This apart, the group has won a $5 million contract from the Airports Authority of India (AI) for distance measuring equipment and has emerged the lowest bidder for a tender for instrument landing systems valued at around $3.5 million.

It is also eyeing another tender for altitude measuring systems from the AAI to be floated next year.

The global giant, which will have a major presence in the forthcoming Aero India Show in Bangalore next year, will showcase products such as helmets for Mig 29s with mounted sight display and Mirage 200 avionics upgrades.

The group - which will have around 50 senior executives at the show from its facilities all over the globe - also hopes to display its sonar for choppers and light-weight torpedoes.
Source: IANS
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