Dubai, United Arab Emirates: US aviation giant Boeing and India’s industrial powerhouse Tata signed an agreement on Sunday at the Dubai Air Show 2015 to set up a joint venture for the manufacture of aerostructures in India.
The agreement, signed by the chairman of Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) S. Ramadorai and Thomas Bell, senior Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, envisages the manufacture of the fuselage of the Apache AH-64E attack helicopter.
According to a statement, Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems Limited ‘announced a joint venture (JV) that will manufacture aerostructures for aircraft and collaborate on integrated systems development opportunities in India’.
The statement said, “The JV will initially create a manufacturing center of excellence to produce aerostructures for the AH-64 Apache helicopter and to compete for additional manufacturing work packages across Boeing platforms, both commercial and defense. Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems intend to grow the JV partnership in the future, with a focus on opportunities to collaborate on development and selling of integrated systems.”
The government of India signed an order for 22 Apache helicopters after the aircraft was selected by the Indian Air Force (IAF). India will become the 14th country to operate the aircraft.
President of Boeing India, Pratyush Kumar told StratPost that the joint venture would become a global supplier of the Apache fuselage to Boeing. Tata already builds the cabins for the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter and Kumar said, “Tata’s demonstrated capability in building aerostructures certainly factored into our decision.”
Refusing to elaborate on any numbers associated with the joint venture, Kumar clarified, “The potential of the joint venture would obviously have to be large enough for the joint venture to make business sense.”
According to Kumar the next steps for the joint venture would include government approval, company registration, and ground breaking to set up the manufacturing facility in Hyderabad, for which ‘homework has been done’ and for which a time-frame of ‘six to seven months would be reasonable’. Although Kumar did not specify the stake share of the two companies in the joint venture, it is understood that no eyebrows would be raised at the respective percentages under Indian government rules.
The joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems Limited will be the second supplier of the Apache fuselage to Boeing after Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). While it is unlikely that the IAF will be supplied Apaches with a fuselage built in India given the time-frames, the joint venture will receive orders after being set up and manufacture fuselages for a pool to supply all customers globally.
With time it would not be inconceivable for the joint venture to expand to manufacturing aerostructures for other aircraft, as well.
“We are in for Make in India,” said Kumar, adding, “We have doubled our sourcing of products and services from India since September 2014. Products and services sourced from India with a value of over USD 500 million get into Boeing platforms making Indian companies part of Boeing’s global supply chain footprint.”
The statement quoted Chris Chadwick, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security as saying, “This partnership will capitalize on India’s industrial capability, innovation and talent to contribute to Boeing’s long-term competitiveness and position us for future growth in the global marketplace. It is a demonstration of our commitment to further accelerate our partnership with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.”
S. Ramadorai, chairman, Tata Advanced Systems said in the statement, “This agreement to establish a JV will propel the growth of the Indian aerospace sector by leveraging the world-class competencies of TASL and its supplier eco-system, as well as provide access to India’s world-class manufacturing capability, skilled talent and competitive cost structures.”
“Our commitment was demonstrated by Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney’s presence at the recently concluded aerospace Innovation Summit in New Delhi and this JV is a clear example of Boeing’s long-term commitment to Make in India,” said Kumar, president of Boeing India, in the statement.
It also quoted Sukaran Singh, MD & CEO, Tata Advanced Systems as saying, “TASL is one of the select few in the private sector in India undertaking manufacturing and assembly of both aircraft and helicopters. The resulting scale and expertise at which the company now operates makes it well-positioned for large-scale systems integration work in India’s aerospace and defense sector.”
The statement also pointed out that ‘Boeing and Tata group companies have established partnerships in India to manufacture aerostructures for Boeing’s commercial and military aircraft. Tata Advanced Materials has delivered composite panels for the power and mission equipment cabinets and auxiliary power unit door fairings for the P-8I long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. TAL Manufacturing Solutions is manufacturing complex floor beams out of composite materials for the Boeing 787-9, the most modern aircraft with exceptional environmental and fuel-efficient capabilities. TAL Manufacturing Solutions has provided ground support equipment for the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter.’
The statement also listed the activities of Tata Advanced Systems Limited over the last five years as a manufacturing partner with companies like Boeing, Airbus Group, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Cobham Mission Equipment, RUAG Aviation, as well as the Government of India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation.
Tata is currently partnering with the Airbus Group to build C-295 aircraft for the Indian Air Force, which plans to replace it’s fleet of 56 Avro transport aircraft. A final decision from the government of India is still awaited.