Stating that Gujarat is “key” to implementing its India strategy, Airbus Group on Friday said it was exploring Dholera and Mundra as potential sites for setting up a base for manufacturing Panther helicopters.
“The state of Gujarat is very strategic to Airbus. Being number one in the ease-of-doing-business, Airbus sees Gujarat as a key in implementation of it’s India strategy… We are currently collaborating with the state (government) to develop an aerospace ecosystem at Dholera,” said Ashish Saraf, vice-president, industry development, strategic partnerships and offsets, Airbus Group India Pvt Ltd. Dholera is located about 150 kilometres from Ahmedabad city and is being developed as a Special Investment Region (SIR).
“We would like to establish a full-line to manufacture Panther helicopters in India. The Naval Utility Helicopter programme for which we have proposed the Panther, has the ability to create a complete ecosystem of manufacturing, assembly, testing, certification, completion, delivery, maintenance and repair overhaul,” said Saraf while speaking at the conclave on Aviation organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The NUH programme involves deployment of 100 all-weather capable helicopters for the Indian Navy.
Later talking at the sidelines of the event, Saraf said, “Dholera is one of the sites we are looking for a manufacturing base. It is very attractive for us, the reason being its vicinity to the ocean, accessibility to ports and manufacturing base. We are looking at the site to set up some sort of manufacturing. The greater possibility is for helicopters. But we will not restrict it to just that.”
Airbus had signed a MoU with the Gujarat government to set up an “aerospace and defence park” during the Vibrant Gujarat 2017 summit held in January. However, no details were shared. “Mundra could be another site that we could look at in Gujarat,” the official from Airbus said adding that the company was also looking at alternate locations in Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for the Panther helicopters.
Jayant Sinha, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation who was also present at the CII event said that he has also requested Airbus to set up a Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility at Dholera. “I have specifically asked Airbus to set up an MRO facility at Dholera,” Sinha said while talking to media persons.