New Delhi: Safran SA, Europe’s largest aircraft engine maker by volume and revenues, will set up an aircraft training centre with an investment of up to $20 million, or Rs97.4 crore, at Hyderabad.
The centre to be set up by its engine making arm, CFM International, will train airline mechanics and engineers on its engines that power Airbus SAS-made A320 and Boeing Co.’s B737 planes, Safran group chief executive officer Jean-Paul Herteman, told Mint in an interview on the eve of Aero India show in Bangalore on Wednesday. Edited excerpts:
Will you be making any big ticket announcements at this year’s Aero India?
I don’t believe there would be big announcements. (But) there are many business discussions going on. In civil aviation we are under way to set up a training centre in engineering that will be located in Hyderabad. That will open next year.
Growth plans: Safran group CEO Jean-Paul Herteman was in New Delhi on Tuesday on the eve of the Bangalore Aero India show. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
After that we have significant defence business, of course, so there is discussion about MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft). In helicopters we are very active, we have made specific engine for Dhruv with HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd), the Shakti engine. This has been certified in Europe, which is the first time I think India has participated in development of an engine and had it certified under western (agencies).
Our total business in India today is $500 million—direct and indirect. We have been producing 120 million SIM cards (for mobile phones); we will be at the rate of 300 million end of this year. This is not serving only Indian market but export market—all of Asia, Africa and Middle East.
How has the slowdown impacted your India sales?
We had a discussion today (Tuesday) morning with the Indian manager. He said we may see slower growth, but he really sees continuing growth because mobile telecom market is still booming and you are no longer here investing in fixed lines. So, we still see significant growth even though it will probably be slower than it would have been (earlier). (In aviation) we have already supplied 50 aircraft engines (to Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and Jet Airways) and 350 are in the backlog....at what rate they will take deliveries is a question of adapting (to the slowdown). Talks are still on on MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities) but we have to look at cash expenditure like everyone else.
Has the Indian government approached you with its security requirements after the Mumbai terror attacks?
They did not approach us directly but we have many many projects coming up with security ID, biometrics.... We will always go with an Indian partner. The partners are not a single one (but many) depending on the business. There are many big private companies we are in talks with.