Aero India 2017: Airbus Eyes India’s Defence And Civil Helicopter Markets
As India looks to modernise its ageing fleet of helicopters under the Make in India programme, Europe’s Airbus Helicopters is looking to tap both the defence and civil helicopter market In India.
For Airbus Helicopters, India is of utmost importance, Xavier Hay, president of Airbus Helicopters told BloombergQuint on the sidelines of the ongoing 11th Aero India show. “The time has come to replace the old helicopters like Cheetah and Chetak in India, and we are participating in multiple segments to modernise the fleet. One is the light helicopter (segment), where we are proposing the Phoenix. Then there is the requirement for 110 naval utility helicopters,” Hay said.
The Indian Navy requires 110 units of twin-engine medium-sized utility helicopters to serve the Indian waters, for which Airbus is pitching the Panther military chopper. That request, though, is still pending.
“It is a prudent platform and Panther has already been used by the U.S. Coast Guard, as also in Mexico, Indonesia, UAE,” Hay said. The company’s EC725 Helicopter has already been accepted by the Indian Coast Guard earlier this year.
In 2016, it had entered into joint venture with Mahindra Defence to make military helicopters in India.
Airbus also has more than 90 civil helicopters flying in India, and Hay added that it has been getting a tremendous response from the country’s civil helicopter market.
The European company brought the first dedicated heli-ambulance, an Airbus H130, for display at Aero India. Six units are already available in India for passenger transport and the VVIP. Hay added the dedicated air ambulance version will first start operations in south India, and will later be deployed in other parts of the country.
“We have already delivered 5,000 helicopters of this family, logging more than 26 million hours; it has tremendous experience in terms of safety and operation,” he said.
Bengaluru-based Aviators Air Rescue will pioneer the first air ambulance in India, with a fleet of three H130 helicopters.