Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2011 Contents 28 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2011
With its Australian acquisitions, Mahindra took on
GippsAero's aircra portfolio, comprising the GA8
Air van utility turboprop, of which more than 150 are
ying around the world, and the GA200C Fatman
agricultural aircraft. The company also acquired
GippsAero's fully operational production, maintenance
and product support facility in the Latrobe Valley
in Victoria, as well as Aerosta 's CASA-approved,
AS9100-certificated sheet metal workshop in Port
Melbourne, also in Victoria.
e Aerosta facility manufactures close-tolerance,
high-precision sheet metal components and assemblies
for the aviation, defence and specialised sheet metal
industries, with customers including Boeing Australia,
General Dynamics and ales.
Expansion is on the cards for both its Australian
operations and its aerospace capability in India.
Commercial production at a new Indian facility, in
Bangalore, is planned for 2012.
" is facility will span over 200,000 square feet
of production area, with unique capabilities in the
private sector in the Indian aerospace industry,"
says Mehra. e Indian facility will be part of the
company's aerostructures division, with capabilities
in special processing, machining and assembly work,
complementing its Australian operation.
Mahindra recently purchased from Boeing
Aerostructures Australia at Fishermen's Bend in
Melbourne "selected equipment" which will be
transferred to the new Indian facility. " is equipment
will be recommissioned in the upcoming Indian plant,
where it will be the cornerstone of the new capabilities
that we are introducing into the Indian aerospace
industry," he says.
Aerosta Australia has been and will continue to
be a key contributor to the development of the Indian
facility, says Mehra.
"It will continue to operate in its current form as a
part of our aerostructures business," he says. "We see
tremendous synergies between the two plants as well
as the two divisions. We will continue to leverage
o Aerosta 's rich experience and capitalise on the
synergies being generated between the companies."
e intention is not to transfer production to India,
Mehra says. "We have no plans to move Gippsland
production to India. On the contrary, we are actually
investing in the expansion of the current facility at
GippsAero. e expansion is aimed at increasing the
production capacity for the current product, the GA8,
and to allow for future development and production of
two new products in the pipeline."
Mehra says Mahindra is also creating "an integrated
technolog y team" with facilities in India and Australia to
expand the current aircra portfolio to span the two - to
20-seat sector and to develop derivatives that enhance
the aircra 's utility and exibility for operators.
"We are making substantial investments in our
Australian facility [GippsAero] -- one, to ramp up
production capacity for the GA8 to meet market
demand, and two, investing in new products and
derivatives to expand our aircra portfolio," he says.
Within two years, Mahindra plans to bring to market
a 10-seat stretch of the GA8 Air van, dubbed the GA10,
and the relaunched Nomad -- the 18-seat GA18. Some
US$20 million will be invested in GippsAero over the
next two years for product development.
The acquisition by Mahindra has allowed the
company to realise some of its aircra portfolio
expansion plans. e Australian manufacturer had
been considering the development of a 10-seat stretch
of its popular eight-seater prior to the acquisition
by Mahindra and had been seeking international
funding to relaunch the former Nomad programme
since it acquired the type certi cate from Boeing in
e GA10 Turbine will be powered by a Rolls
Royce 250 B17F2 engine and capable of carrying
eight occupants on routes of ve hours or more, or as
many as 10 occupants. It will have a maximum all-up
weight of 4,750lbs and an estimated empty weight of
2,350lbs. Maximum fuel capacity will be 550 litres.
GippsAero says the GA10 will maintain the concept
of the GA8, namely simplicity at low operating costs.
e aim is to use the current aerodynamic design of
the GA8 and as many existing production parts as
possible to minimise development and production
costs, the company adds. First ight is scheduled for
November, with CASA type certi cation planned
for February 2013 and the type's public debut at the
Australian International Airshow at Avalon, Victoria
in March 2013.
Another variant, the GA18, will then follow,
featuring new engines and propellers, a glass cockpit
and weight-saving measures.
"GippsAero and Mahindra Aerospace are also
jointly working on multiple technolog y initiatives to
take advantage of new engineering and manufacturing
developments across systems, structures and
propulsion to improve the global competitiveness of
our aircra portfolio," says Mehra.
Executives from Mahindra have previously been
quoted as saying the company has ambitions to be
the "Embraer of India", but Mehra says: "It is more
accurate to say that we are committed to becoming
a manufacturer of globally competitive aircra . We
believe it is possible, that there are opportunities in
developing economies for our class of aircra , and
that the time is right for us to deliver in aerospace
what we have been able to accomplish in other sectors
of the industry." e product portfolio is unlikely to
When asked if the company is interested in adding
more aircra , possibly even a regional jet, Mehra
responds: "While we are starting with utility aircra
in the two to 20-seat class, we are also watching
developments in applying new technologies to
the next class of civilian aircra and if the right
combination of market demand, technolog y enablers
and partnerships become possible, then who can
e focus at the moment is to complete the projects
the company has already committed to.
"Our current priority is to consolidate our
achievements and build a strong foundation for
ourselves in the global aerospace industry. This
would be necessary to accomplish our strategic plans
-- commission the new Indian facility and quickly
move up the value chain in aerostructures, as well as
complete development and commercially launch the
new aircra models in the pipeline," says Mehra.
e Mahindra chief adds: "In the medium term
for the aerostructures business, we aim at establishing
ourselves as a tier-one supplier to large aircra OEMs.
On the aircra side of the business, we want to
become globally recognised as a manufacturer of cost-
e ective, e cient, robust utility aircra , producing
and supporting a portfolio of four to six models."
New partnerships are also being considered to
grow the business further.
"We are exploring potential strategic partnerships
in both the aircra and aerostructures business,"
Mehra says. "This could be either through
acquisitions, joint ventures, revenue-sharing models
or risk-sharing partnerships." n
Further expansion is planned for Mahindra
Aerospace, says Arvind Mehra, executive
director and CEO, pictured here with Bendigo
Airport Manager Bridget Conroy.
Mahindra's aerospace customers have included
Seabird Aviation Jordan.
SEABIRD AVIATION JORDAN
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