Utility vehicles major Mahindra & Mahindra is now looking to take over the skies.
The company, which acquired Australian companies Gipps Aero (aircraft maker) and Aerostaff (parts maker) in 2009, wants to change the aviation scene in India with its small aircraft.
Its 10-seater turboprop airplane is expected to be launched sometime in mid-2014, while the 5-seater CNM5 aircraft (jointly developed with NAL) is currently undergoing certification tests and is likely to be launched in 2015. The company is also modernising an existing 18-seater aircraft, which is likely to be ready within three years.
The group currently sells only one aircraft – the Gipps Aero single engine 8-seater GA8 Airvan – 200 units have already been sold worldwide, but there are already 5, 10 and 18-seater aircraft under various stages of developments, and these will be rolled out over the next 2-3 years.
“When Mahindra started making jeeps many years ago, the logo was roads will follow. Now with aircraft we are saying runways will follow. We want to be a well-known brand in the under-20 seater airplane space,” Arvind Mehra, global CEO, Mahindra Aerospace, told HT.
At present, Mahindra Aerospace produces 30 aircraft each year at its manufacturing facility in Australia, which is expected to go up to 40-50 per year, once production of new planes starts, said Mehra. The company also has a facility in the US, where currently 10 planes are being assembled each year.
Cessna and Piper are among Mahindra’s main competitors in the small aircraft market.
“There is an opportunity that needs to be tapped. You could, for instance, land in a metro like Delhi, hop on to a small plane, reach Agra in 30 minutes, watch the Taj Mahal and come back,” said Mehra.