Sumir Kaul / PTI
Berlin: Aerospace giant EADS is in talks with airline tycoon Vijay Mallya to revive its single-piston-engine aircraft manufacturing business, as a potential tie-up offers cost advantage to the European firm and entry into general aviation for the Indian billionaire.
SOCATA, the business jetliner arm of EADS, made public its project to relaunch its single piston engine line of product and is on the look out for a partner involving an entity willing to resume production at a much lower cost than the one in France.
“This is the very point that was approached in initial talks with Mallya in the course of current discussions between him and Airbus (subsidiary of EADS),” SOCATA vice-president (sales and marketing) Nicolas Chabbert said on the sidelines of the Berlin Air Show.
However, he was quick to add that the talks were still inconclusive. “There is no conclusions or any more development than this initial approach,” Chabbert said.
Mallya, who founded Kingfisher Airlines in 2005 and acquired Deccan Aviation in 2007, had made his interest to diversify into general aviation public and at one time was interested in US-based small aircraft maker EPIC Aircraft.
The fate of the deal was not known as yet, though aviation industry sources said several complications had come in the way of a tie up between Mallya and EPIC.
Mallya has also requested the help of EADS and Airbus in evaluating a couple of opportunities in General Aviation sector, he added.
The vice-president of the EADS arm said his company was also planning to enter the Indian market in a big way with their high-speed business turboprop TBM 850.
“We are planning to develop marketing efforts in India as we think it is more and more appropriate. The aircraft has a four to five passenger seating capacity and can land on small airports,” Chabbert said.
There are logistical problems as some of the state governments in India do not permit granting license to single engine aircraft, he said.
About his small business jetliner, the official said the aircraft had a maximum range of 1,585 nautical miles (nearly 3,000km) with a maximum speed of nearly 600km per hour.