Assembling of AgustaWestland choppers by IRL likely to be delayed

 The proposed chopper assembling unit by IRL, a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Tata Sons Ltd, may further be delayed as the FIPB has once again deferred its decision on the proposal.

PTI| Updated: Jul 22, 2015, 12:10 PM IST

Hyderabad: The proposed chopper assembling unit by IRL, a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Tata Sons Ltd, may further be delayed as the FIPB has once again deferred its decision on the proposal.

IRL (Indian Rotorcraft Ltd) plans to assemble AgustaWestland's AW119Kx choppers here.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in a meeting on June 15 had said the proposal to incorporate the helicopter model as AW119Kx in place of AW119Ke among others was deferred, without assigning any reasons.

When contacted, an IRL spokesperson did not give direct answers to queries such as expected time-frame for the product roll out from the Hyderabad facility and investment involved.

"IRL, the Joint Venture with AW, is for assembling AW119Kx helicopters. IRL will export the assembled helicopters to AW for it to sell to its customers. The JV is yet to begin operations. IRL has no connections with the Indian Air Force purchase of AW101 helicopters," the spokesperson said in an email reply.

FIPB officials, however, refused to comment on the issue.

IRL had sought the FIPB clearance for changing the model of the helicopter to undertake final assembly of Agustawestland's helicopter for export to global consumers or for the Indian civil market.

IRL also requested to change the foreign investor from Agustawestland NV Netherlands to AgustaWestland SPA Italy as the Netherlands company merged into its Italian parent company with effect from January 1, 2014.

Finmeccanica-owned helicopter manufacturer AugustaWestland signed an MoU in 2009 with Tatas to establish Indian Rotorcraft Ltd at GMR Hyderabad Aviation SEZ Ltd for AW119 ke model (now changed to AW 119Kx) helicopter assembly and also for completion and delivery of the product to its customers worldwide.

The product from the Hyderabad facility was earlier expected to roll out in 2014.

The proposal was "kept in abeyance" in a meeting held in December 2013 without assigning any reason. Since then, FIPB kept on deferring its decision on the proposal.

AgustaWestland, had earlier, landed in controversies both in India and Italy following the allegations of kickbacks paid to some of the Indian officials to the tune of Rs 362 crore.