Samtel expects orders of 20,000 Airbus cockpit full colour displays

June 18th, 2009 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Indian electronics giant Samtel sees orders worth $100-150 million over the next decade for the full colour display (FCD) it has jointly developed with French defence and aerospace major Thales for the Airbus A-320/340 aircraft.

“We are looking at orders in the region of 20,000 FCUs over the next 10 years. It’s a long-term project,” an upbeat Puneet Kaura, executive director of Samtel Display Systems, told IANS on the phone from the French capital where the FCD was unveiled for the first time at the Paris Air Show.

An FCU displays piloting and navigation aid data as well as system and warning parameters to the aircraft’ captain and first officer. It can display multiple and variable parameters, synthesise a large quantity of data and combine the data used in the various phases of flight for display in different colours, thereby catering to the the requirements of different airline operators.

The FCU is the first product to be developed by the Sametel-Thales Avionics Pvt. Ltd. joint venture (JV) that aims at enabling India become part of the global supply chain for civil and military avionics.

The JV will initially focus on CRTs (cathode ray tubes) for the spectrum of Airbus civil and military aircraft, as also on helmet-mounted displays (HMDs) and multi-functional displays (MFDs) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Samtel and Thales hold 74:26 equity in the joint venture that was announced in May with a capital of $12.5 million with more investments to be pumped in as the joint development efforts progress.

Kaura wouldn’t put a value on the FCU order, citing a confidentially clause but industry analysts placed it at $100-150 million over the next 10 years.

Speaking about the future, Kaura said Samtel Display Systems was in the process of developing with US electronics major Honeywell an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) for its Bendix/King family of avionics. Japanese major Sony is currently its sole manufacturer.

“We will replace Sony as the single source in the world for EFIS,” he said, adding: “EFIS has both civil and military application. This is the first time it will be manufactured in India.”

EFIS comprises high-resolution cathode ray tubes that display flight information and navigational data, as also performance data, including engine and aircraft operating parameters, stall warning, data acquisition for the flight data recorder, and for maintenance and diagnostics.

Samtel and Thales are also working closely for the supply of advanced helmets to the Indian Navy for the MiG 29K combat aircraft that will be deployed on the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov the Indian Navy has purchased from Russia and which is likely to be inducted as the INS Vikramaditya in 2012.

Samtel is also working in close association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for developing an LCD-based head-down display for the IAF’s frontline Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat jets.

This apart, Samtel has a joint venture with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for developing avionics for the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) and the intermediate jet trainer (IJT).

According to Kaura, the Samtel-Thales joint venture has submitted a proposal to the defence ministry for fulfilling its 30 percent offsets or reinvestment obligations in its bid to update the avionics systems of the IAF’s 51-strong fleet of Mirage-2000 fighter-bombers.

The upgrades would enable the IAF address the alarming dip in its operational capabilities, even as it evaluates a global tender it has floated for purchasing 126 new combat aircraft.

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