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Indian Rotorcraft's helicopter manufacturing unit at GMR SEZ

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AW119 is a light eight-seat single-engine multi-purpose helicopter.

HYDERABAD (PTI): Indian Rotorcraft, a joint venture between Tatas and Italian company AgustaWestland, is likely to set up a helicopter manufacturing unit at GMR's aviation SEZ at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here soon.

The JV will manufacture AW119, an eight-seat utility helicopter here for AgustaWestland, a company owned by Italy-based Finmeccanica.

GMR Group Chairman G M Rao said an international helicopter manufacturer is planning to set up its shop in their SEZ but refused to confirm the name of the company.

"The proposal is finalised. We cannot divulge the name of the company at this time as it still has to be cleared by the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) Board and other regulators," Rao told PTI.

Sources close to the development, however, said Indian Rotorcraft will be setting up the manufacturing facility in the SEZ.

Giuseppe Orsi, Chief Executive of AgustaWestland and Co-Chairman of Indian Rotorcraft said they initiated talks with two Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Hyderabad, one within the airport and one outside the airport, where Tata already has its operations.

"After evaluating, we have decided to go ahead with the SEZ within the airport as that will not just provide us with greenfield (space), but also other infrastructural benefits," Orsi had said in an interview on the sidelines of the Farnborough air show in the UK.

According to AgustaWestland, the joint venture company will be responsible for AW119 final assembly, completion and delivery while AgustaWestland will retain the responsibility for worldwide marketing and sales.

The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered from the new facility in 2011 with production forecast of 30 aircraft per year to meet worldwide demand.

According to a senior official of the GMR SEZ, the helicopter unit requires around 10 acres of land and it would finally go up to 20 acres.

The official said they are expecting two more companies which are in to aerospace and aviation spare parts manufacturing space to sign a MOU in this fiscal.

The 250-acre GMR Aerospace SEZ already houses an MRO unit a joint venture between Malaysian Airlines and GMR, with the Indian firm holding 51 per cent stake.

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