The new Russian Irkut MC-21-300 airliner, which is undergoing flight tests this week in preparation for its first lift-off, could well have an Indian partner at the helm, with Mahindra and Mahindra close to inking a deal to supply airframe parts and assemblies as well as certain components for the civil aviation aircraft.
The aerospace unit of Mahindra and Mahindra is to manufacture parts for the Russian airliner, and could even lend a hand with designing the interiors of the aircraft, sources said. The first MC-21 aircraft is currently lodged at the flight test division of the Irkutsk Aviation plant located near Siberia, they added.
Mahindra and Mahindra spokesperson was not available for comment. An email sent to the Russian company did not elicit any response immediately.
“The Indian company has spent over seven years making aeroplane components in Australia, and has the capacity to scale up. It is looking to undertake aviation projects,” officials privy to the discussions told BusinessLine.
The Indian conglomerate was considered for partnership for the Irkut-MC-21 civil aviation aircraft on the basis of Mahindra Aerospace’s association with the manufacture of the Sukhoi Superjet 100, it is learnt.
The company manufactured some components and helped build the interiors of the Sukhoi Superjet. Russian airline Aeroflot is the Sukhoi Superjet’s single biggest buyer. Mahindra Aerostructures, a subsidiary of Mahindra Aerospace, has been keen to cement ties with aviation giants.
Mahindra Aerospace acquired Aerostaff Australia, an aircraft components manufacturer, and design firm Gippsland Aeronautics in 2008. The company diversified in 2009 when it bought another Australian firm, Gipps-Aero, which produced light utility aircraft. The move signalled the Indian firm’s entry into the global aerospace market.
Mahindra Aerospace currently builds the Airvan 8 and Airvan 10, seating eight and ten passengers respectively.
The versatile and economical utility aircraft is certified in 38 countries, and are in service in Australia, Africa, North America and Europe. While Mahindra Aerostructures business produces airframe parts and assemblies, the company has also inked sourcing and partnering deals with several aerospace majors.