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India's bike maker Hero to build light aircraft

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New Delhi: From motorcycles to aircraft!

Hero Motors, the ubiquitous Indian brand famous for its motorbikes, is set for a huge leap in its business plans, with the proposed manufacture of a light aircraft.

The decision sounds wise, given the fact that India is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation market, especially in the private business jet sector.

Hero Motors is taking the plunge into the challenging aviation manufacturing sector in collaboration with a German company.

The company is still to disclose the name of its German partner but it has made a beginning in the aerospace sector as it plans to set up a new center for its aviation activities in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) being proposed by the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Hero Aviation, the company announced, would soon be setting up manufacturing facility with the help of its German partner, which is the world's leading sports aircraft maker.

Apart from manufacturing, the facility would also be used for maintenance, overhauling and repair (MOR) of aircraft. The work on the new project would start in 2009 and the company is planning to invest Rs 500 crore. Hero Motors is a leader in India's vast motor cycle industry.

The company hopes that it would make a place in the Madhya Pradesh SEZ. As of now, India does not have any manufacturing of aircraft, except for the state run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and National Aerospace Laboratories which have limited capabilities in the field.

India's light aircraft sector is expanding at a rapid pace despite a slow down in the domestic commercial air traffic. New companies are entering the market indicating a positive mood in the investors.

Recently, Eclipse Aviation Corp, a leading aircraft company, sold 10 light jets to New Delhi's Club One Air. This was the company's first sale in the Indian market. The company hopes it would open more windows of opportunity in India, as people become more comfortable in traveling by their own private jets.

The aim is to provide affordable, fast and comfortable aircraft to business executives making a dash from one city to another on crucial corporate trips. Aviation experts said that India's private jet market has come off age in the last couple of years. There were hardly a dozen private planes in the country but the numbers have fast grown and are already touching the 150 mark.
With Indian economy growing, the demand for small business jets would go up substantially. The growing wealth of individuals is a great attraction. India might still be a poor country but one cannot ignore the fact that it also has a large population of billionaires. Indian billionaires are growing and many of them have taken to the skies in their own aircraft.



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