Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC), is looking at the possibility of manufacturing helicopters in India.
The company has already set up base in the country by tying up with the Tatas to get the helicopter cabins manufactured at the Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) facility on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
“If all goes well, we will evaluate the option of making helicopters in India, may be in Hyderabad itself, by 2015,” AJS Walia, managing director - India & South Asia, Sikorsky Aircraft, told DNA.
Under the agreement with the Tatas, the helicopter major would get the cabins for S-92 helicopters manufactured in Hyderabad. “We have transferred the technology and the project is at an advanced stage. We are expecting the first cabin to be delivered in November 2010 and another two deliveries in December 2010,” said Walia.
The cabin-making capacity would be gradually ramped up to 36-48 cabins per annum in the next 2-3 years, he said.
While the initial cabins, starting November, 2010, would be supplied to Sikorsky’s facility in the US, the Hyderabad facility is also expected to play a key role in the helicopter company’s supplies to the UK government order for 28 S-92 search and rescue helicopters.
“We have a backlog of orders worth $12 billion over the next two years. The new cabin facility would play a key role in delivering the backlog orders and normally these supply agreements are very long-term in nature and there are instances of the agreements remaining valid for centuries. So, our commitment to the facility in Hyderabad is equally long-term in nature,” he said.
The company had also signed an agreement with TASL for manufacture of aircraft components. This agreement provides for manufacture of various components on original equipment manufacture (OEM) basis in addition to the components for S-92 helicopter. The new components facility would also be located adjacent to the cabin manufacture facility and get into production in 2012.
In the Indian market, Sikorsky had supplied three helicopters two years ago. Two more helicopters are ready for delivery, while one order for a S-76D helicopter is pending.
“We are sure that helicopter is going to be the most sought after machine in this country in the years to come. We already see significant interest for various applications in areas like surveillance, patrolling, oil and gas pipeline operations and also for some jobs like cleaning of high tension cables,” he explained.
The company is also in the process of identifying a commercial service centre in India for providing service to the existing and potential customers. In fact, the company is pinning hopes on the X2 technology that is being tested for garnering significant share in the helicopter market.
“The X2 technology is going to revolutionise the entire vertical takeoff philosophy. The new helicopter would also have greater speeds up to 500 kmph as against 260 kmph in the existing models. A prototype is already flying now and we will start talking about it in the days to come,” Walia said.