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Honeywell mulls shifting one production line to HAL

Madhumathi D.S.

For engines that power Dorniers and Bombardiers

Driving deals
The current thought is to have the manufacturing of one of Honeywell engines — that power smaller turboprop aircraft such as Dorniers or Bombardiers — moved to HAL's facilities in Bangalore.

Bangalore , Dec. 7

US aerospace major Honeywell's global production line of one of its civil-sector aeroengines may shift to Bangalore if its talks with old associate Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd come through.

The current thought is to have the manufacturing of one of Honeywell engines — that power smaller turboprop aircraft such as Dorniers or Bombardiers — moved to HAL's facilities in Bangalore. Such an offer has been made in recent months among other proposals and HAL is understood to be debating it.

HAL has been producing Honeywell's TPE 331-5 engines under licence for over a decade. If a new deal with Honeywell comes through, it would take their current arrangement to a new level. "Honeywell has offered one of its civil engines to be produced at HAL. This is a major decision and HAL is considering it," Mr A.K. Saxena, Managing Director of HAL's Bangalore complex, told Business Line.

Honeywell India did not elaborate its plans. Mr Priyank Agarwal, Director, Business Development, Honeywell India, merely said, "Nothing has been defined yet." According to him, "We have had a longstanding relationship with HAL, including licensed production of our engines by HAL for the Dornier 228. We are constantly evaluating opportunities for us to expand our working relationship with HAL, including exports from India."

Cost advantage

The $27-billion Honeywell's move should be seen from the perspective of the huge global backlog for aeroengine deliveries, even as airlines are pumping up big orders for aircraft - and in their wake, for the engines - as they ride the crest in air travel across the world. The engine alone works out to half the aircraft cost.

Engine majors are said to be eyeing locations in India, China, East Europe and Mexico - which are also their new and large markets - to fill these supply gaps. Here, they stand to get their irresistible cost advantage over manufacturing in the US or Europe. Mr Saxena said engine manufacture is a high-technology field and the Indian talent pool would be the key attraction.

HAL also manufactures under licence engines of Rolls Royce and Turbomeca for use in IAF aircraft. In recent years, it has seen a flurry of engine and component-related activities: other engine majors such as GE and Pratt & Whitney, too, have engaged it in talks for a variety of potential collaborations.

A few years ago, it formed a 50:50 joint venture with French engines major Snecma for engine co-development and manufacture.

If HAL — whose priority is rather to export its own light helicopter Dhruv for civil and military purposes and bag global supply orders for large civil aircraft systems — does take up the offer, the revenues from this stream may not be very big, but will give it a brand visibility and a toehold in some niche markets, sources said.

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