Reliance to make passenger aircraft with Antonov
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence is planning to manufacture 50-80 seater passenger aircraft in India in collaboration with its Ukranian joint-venture partner Antonov. The aircraft will be manufactured at the Reliance's Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park in Mihan near Nagpur. Reliance Defence President M.Matheswaran said that production of aircraft will not only cater to Indian market but will also address regional and subsequently global market needs.
Antonov is an Ukranian government firm which is known for manufacturing An 225, the largest transport aircraft in the world.
Reliance Defence had tied up with Ukraine-based Antonov for building transport aircraft, which would be used for military, paramilitary, and civil purposes in India. The Rs.35k-crore-worth joint venture was expected to generate employment opportunities in the primary and secondary industrial sectors for over 7,000 people. The venture would give a boost to the Indian Air Force's plan to upgrade its AN-32s built by Antonov.
Reliance is the bigger partner in the joint venture with 51% stake while Antonov holds 49% stake, which is in line with the government's FDI policy in defence that allows a maximum of 49% FDI.
Reliance Defence President, Matheswaran, expects the first order for the aircraft to come within 3 years The joint venture will manufacture An-148, which is an 80-seater commercial aircraft with a range of 2,100-4,400 km. The first few planes may come as directly built-off-the-shelf units from Antonov Ukraine. The planes will then be assembled from completely knocked down units and subsequently manufactured entirely in India.
The global civil aviation industry is dominated by Seattle, US-based Boeing Co. and Toulouse, France-based Airbus Group. Canada's Bombardier Inc., Brazil's Embraer S.A. and Russia's United Aircraft Corp. have small market share in global airplanes industry.
The Indian government is focussing on improving air connectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities which will require the use of smaller aircraft which the joint venture aims to manufacture. Further, the government's Make in India programme includes defence as one of the priority sectors. The JV aims to adapt the commercial aircraft An-148 currently manufactured by Antonov for military cargo application purposes.