Aerospace propulsion and equipment maker, Snecma group, would broaden its engagement with India’s state run aircraft maker, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the subcontinent was a growing and strategic market for the French conglomerate, its chairman and chief executive officer Jean- Paul Bechat told reporters here on Wednesday.
Engines from Turbomeca, a Snecma group company, power the Mirage 2000 combat aircraft and the advanced light helicopter in the country. Bechat said Snecma looks at India as a priority in strategic development.
The long term investment strategy in India is based on high tech centres of excellence such as Snecma Aerospace India and a proposed joint venture with HAL.
Initial investment for the 50:50 joint venture will be around Rs 30 crore. “Once the (Indian) government approval for the joint venture is secured, the production will start within a year,” he said. The joint venture will make Turbomeca’s new Ardiden engine, the development of which comes “11 per cent from HAL,” he said.
The engine is to go in for certification next year and three quarters of the engines, that will go on HAL’s advanced light helicopter, will be manufactured in India. HAL would also make parts for the engine as and when Snecma decides to sell them in the international market.
“We haven’t made out a business plan for the Ardiden outside India... There was enough commercial promise in this region itself to go in for the JV,” he said.
However, Bechat didn’t rule out the possibility of selling the engines outside India. “Of course, once the engine is proven, it is possible that Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter and Sikorsky Aircraft might take an interest in it,” he said. So, on the worldwide market for the engine, “We will make a few thousand,” he said, though Snecma had said in various fora it estimated a market for some 1,500 Ardiden in the next 15 years.
The joint venture will also make parts for the CFM56 engine, which Snecma designed and built through its partnership with General Electric. Snecma already has customers for the CFM56, in Jet Airways and Air Sahara which will buy Airbus aircraft that will fly on the engine, he said. The joint venture will start with plans to manufacture some some 300 engineers.
Snecma is also boosting staff in its other subsidiaries in India: “Snecma Aerospace India (SAI), a two year old 100 per cent subsidiary of Snecma, will increase its workforce from the present 150 to 300 by end of 2005.” SAI, based in Bangalore, works on parts of major aerospace programmes such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 7E7, the CFM56 aircraft engine, and SM146.
Snecma has also recently incorporated a new 100 per cent owned subsidiary, Turbomeca Turbocharger Industrial India Private limited, for the production, sales, marketing and service of turbochargers for large diesel engines.