Eurocopter focussing on Indian market

October 18th, 2008 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Oct 18 (IANS) Eurocopter, the global leader in chopper manufacturing, is focussing on the Indian market and hopes to cash in on the increasing demand in various segments of the civilian sector and bag the defence contracts.The company, which sees the potential in Indian market doubling in a few years, aims to cater to the demand in oil and gas, emergency medical evacuation, tourism and VIP segments of the civilian market.

Eurocopter, part of aerospace giant European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), hopes that the concept of flying ambulance would pick up soon in this country. The company is already in talks with some hospitals, insurance companies and Indian authorities for use of helicopters for emergency medical evacuation.

“There is a need to build infrastructure like helipads at hospitals so that the patients can be rushed to hospital within the golden hour,” Ludovic Boistot, sales director (South Asia) of Eurocopter, told IANS.

Eurocopter is participating in India Aviation 2008, India’s first international conference and exhibition on civil aviation here. It showcased choppers for civilian markets like EC 145, EC135 and EC155.

Currently, Eurocopter has over 480 Eurocopter helicopters in service in India, the majority in the military sector.

In the civilian sector, Eurocopter presently has a fleet of 64 helicopters flying in India, representing a market share of 40 percent.

The company commands over 50 percent market share of the oil and gas sector, where helicopters are mainly used to ferry people and material to and from offshore platforms. It also holds a key position in charter and tourism services, government transport and VIP/corporate transport.

“Rapidly growing economy, increasing reliance on air transport, service to tourist destination and religious places and find of new gas reserves and the demand in other sectors will give big push to helicopter industry in this country,” Boistot said.

The company expects rapid growth in corporate and VIP transport and oil and gas industry. With the new oil and gas blocks being found, the industry will require longer-range helicopters like the EC155 or the EC225.

The company also sees increasing demand for search and rescue missions and for evacuation during natural disasters. It feels more helicopters would also be required to improve police capabilities.

“The use of helicopters for the Indian police is another area that has remained primarily untapped as against global trends,” said Cecile Vion-Lanctuit, head of international media relations of Eurocopter.

In order to support the growth of chopper industry in India, the company plans to set up pilot training facilities and improve maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) capabilities in the country.

The officials said Eurocopter is bidding for all chopper deals for the Indian military. It is bidding for light helicopters, attack helicopters and navy choppers in all the three segments of chopper requirement for the Indian military.

India has already called tenders for 197 light helicopters, 22 attack helicopters and 16 navy helicopters.

Eurocopter is bidding to sell 60 light helicopters Fennec in ‘fly away’ condition, while 137 were to be assembled by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The officials said Eurocopter was ready to again collaborate with HAL. The collaboration dates back to 1960s when HAL manufactured Cheetah/Chetak helicopter under license from the European company.

The company denied losing a 197-helicopter bid worth $600 million a few months ago, though Indian authorities claimed that the bid was cancelled and Eurocopter was asked to submit a fresh bid.

“The Indian military market offers a big potential as the military has undertaken a programme of modernisation and replacing its fleet,” Boistot said.

Eurocopter manufactures 30 percent of all helicopters in the world. More than 10,000 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in services with over 2,800 customers in 140 countries.

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