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Rediff.com  » Business » This Diwali, buy a Mahindra aircraft for the price of a Ferrari

This Diwali, buy a Mahindra aircraft for the price of a Ferrari

Last updated on: August 12, 2011 19:20 IST

This Diwali, buy a Mahindra aircraft for the price of a Ferrari

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India's first private sector made civilian aircraft -- NM5 -- is all set to take off within the next six weeks.

Developed by Mahindra Aerospace and NAL, it costs up to Rs 1.8 crore (Rs 18 million).

The company also plans to commission its upcoming airframe unit in Bengaluru by June 2012.

"If everything goes well and according to our plan, we will be able to launch the five-seater NM5 aircraft developed in association with the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) as early as within the next six weeks," Mahindra Systech President Hemant Luthra told a select media gathering in Mumbai.

Mahindra Systech is the holding company of Mahindra Aerospace, a subsidiary of auto major Mahindra & Mahindra.

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Image: A Mahindra Aerospace aircraft.
Photographs: Courtesy, Mahindra Aerospace
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The aircraft will cost anywhere between $350,000 and $400,000 (around Rs 1.6-1.8 crore), which is roughly the price of a Ferrari. A prototype of the plane is in the final stage of testing, Luthra said.

"Now all depends on the confidence of the test pilot." Mahindra Aerospace is an equal venture between the Mahindras and NAL, a Bengaluru-based government institution.

Commercial production of the NM5 is expected to begin at Mahindra Aerospace's under-construction airframe in Bengaluru after the plane is tested.

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Image: Mahindra vice chairman Anand Mahindra.
Photographs: Reuters
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The development cost of NM5 is $10-15 million (Rs 45-68 crore), which is considered low by industry standards, said Luthra, adding he expects to sell around 75-100 planes per annum from the fifth year of commercial production.

Mahindra Aerospace, which recently acquired two Australian firms, is working on manufacturing eight and ten-seater aircraft -- GA8 and GA10 -- at its Bengaluru facility, which is expected to be operational by 2012.

However, Luthra said manufacturing is expected to start at the Bengaluru plant only by 2014 as some approvals remain to be taken. "Till then we will continue to produce our planes from our GippsAero plant in Australian."

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Photographs: Reuters
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He said the company is keen to export these planes to China. "We already have orders for around 20 planes from a Chinese who is into leasing of planes. But we will not enter into licensed deal with him in the beginning," Luthra said, without attributing specific reasons for the same.

On the Rs 300-crore (Rs 3 billion) airframe unit in Bengaluru, he said, "The civil contracts have already been awarded and the full-fledged aeroplane bodyshop should be up and running by June 2012."

"Though we want to make the Bengaluru unit a full-fledged aircraft manufacturing facility, to begin with, we will only be able to do manufacture certain body frame components. As and when we start production, that would make us the first private company to design and develop a general aviation aircraft in the country," Luthra said.

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Image: A Hawker 4000 aircraft...

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Mahindra Aerospace had in December 2008 tied up with NAL to produce a general aviation aircraft.

The NAL had successfully developed the Hansa and Saras aircraft. This is the first public-private joint venture in the aircraft design in the country.

The deal also involves developing a 70-seater regional transport aircraft (RTA-70), besides a 50-90-seater turboprop and turbetan family.


Image: The Mahindra-NAL developed NM5 will be available from Diwali.
Photographs: Courtesy, Mahindra Aerospace
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