New Delhi. With 122 billionaires to date, India has the fourth largest population of billionaires and is expected to rise to 225 by 2022. “Business aircraft are no longer a luxury but a necessity for the modern business man who needs to travel to his various offices without wasting time. A part of the company’s increased focus on the Indian market, which is already the second largest purchaser of King Airs in Asia Pacific, the business aviation fleet in India is the largest in the region with 254 aircraft. 65 business aircraft were delivered to India between 2008-2012, an increase of 38 per cent from the previous five year period. Of all business aircraft deliveries made to India over the past decade 39 per cent were Beechcraft,” informed Richard Emery, Beechcraft president, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. “With a strong committed presence in India for more than sixty years. Beechcraft holds 79 per cent market share in the business turboprop section in India. It also has the largest overall market share across all business aircraft with a 41 per cent market share. Indeed, with more than half of the runways at the country’s 346 airports being either short or unpaved, the King Airs flexibility is vital for business travel in India.” he added.
Beechcraft, a manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, has built more than 54,000 aircraft and more than 36,000 are still in operation. The company, which emerged from bankruptcy earlier last year, has estimated revenues of $1.8 billion last year. Textron, the parent company of Cessna aircraft, has agreed to acquire Kansasbased plane maker Beechcraft Corp. for $1.4 billion. “Textron will fully support the Beechcraft brand. The transition team is in place, synergies are there and there are no conflicts in the product lines of both the companies,” he said.
He also explained that the fractional ownership of business aircraft is not a recognised model in India but there is the concept of shared ownership and around eight to ten aircraft have been sold on this model. There are major issues on fractional ownership with regulatory authorities and taxation bodies in India. The fractional model is slowly being recognised in a lot of countries and we hope someday India will recognise it too.
Beechcraft has a positive and bullish long term outlook for India. It is one of the fastestgrowing aviation markets globally, and the company expects to see demand for efficient, flexible and reliable business aircraft to continue growing in the coming years. India has recognised the significance of business aviation as a key segment of the civil aviation sector. The planned improvements to the current airport infrastructure and regulations will facilitate that growth while allowing Indian businesses and the entrepreneurial community to compete more efficiently on a global basis.
As far as co-development and coproduction is concerned Beechcraft has done some work with Mahindras in the past but at the moment they have no existing Indian partner for production of parts. The US manufacturer hopes to do something on these lines in the future. Emery said that the FAA downgrade does not affect Beechcraft’s business in India and they will continue marketing it as before. In India from a distributor since 60 years Beechcraft now has a committed office in India and continues to look at it as a growth market. “Growth in India will be from both corporate as well as government sales. We have both the national and the state governments as prospective clients in mind,” he stated.
He was positive of the changes in the domestic legislation and is confident that the regulators will continue to make the changes needed to cater for the growth of the general and business aviation sector. Insisting that these regulatory hindrances are commonplace in developing markets, which need to meet the demands of increasing activity in the aviation sector, Beechcraft is hopeful of the growing business aviation sector in India. Fixed base Operations may not be far off possibilities Beechcraft feels.
“One of Beechcraft’s largest growth segments is special mission applications, and some of the most popular are surveillance, air ambulance and high density configurations. Furthermore, King Airs can also be used to satisfy a vast range of special missions in India, such as flight inspection, aerial survey and mapping, air ambulance, weather and atmospheric research, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and maritime patrol. These missions can be carried out efficiently at a fraction of the cost of larger, more expensive aircraft typically used for such activities. We are hopeful of impressing the military and para-military in India with our capabilities which suit their requirement.” Emery stated.
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