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HAL to have separate copter division

NEW DELHI (BNS): India's aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will now have a separate helicopter unit that will compete for global rotorcraft contracts. The company is also planning to build its first commercial passenger jet.

The Indian ministry of defense has given its approval for setting up of the helicopter unit of the leading aviation company so that it can position itself effectively in the global market.

The government owned company claims to have developed an expertise in the helicopter segment. For years it has been assembling French-origin light helicopters. It has also developed its flagship advanced light helicopter, which is being marketed in the international market in big way.

A managing director would head the helicopter division. According to estimates of the ministry of India, civil helicopter market is expected to grow by 15 to 20 per cent in the next 20 years. The rate of grown in the military sector is expected to be only five to six per cent.

HAL's ALH comes in both military and civil version. Several countries have shown keen interest in buying the Indian helicopter. It would be sold to Bolivia, Chile and Turkey to begin with. Chile wants to use it as air ambulance while other civil uses are being explored. What sets it apart from other products available in the market is its cost effectiveness.

The helicopter division is on expansion mode as HAL also plans to venture into building a medium lift rotor craft. It already has bagged the order to build light helicopters for Indian army and air force. The Indian aviation officials explain that it would make an entry into both the civil and military markets.

It is expected to have more orders from foreign countries. The main positioning would be in the third world markets where its cost effectiveness would attract buyers.

HAL is also now planning to build its first commercial jet. It will be a 100 seater aircraft in the regional jet segment. It is estimated that the regional jet market will grow steadily in the coming years as short and medium haul destinations are becoming popular with air travelers. As of now, HAL has not ventured into the commercial passenger jet. The officials said it is a challenging task but designs and concept was ready.

HAL assembles, manufactures and maintains a large array of aircraft ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.

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