New Delhi: Mahindra Aerospace, the aircraft and aero-structures arm of the Mahindra Group, on Monday said it plans to build 10 and 18 seater airplanes to tap the rising demand in general aviation segment in the country, including organised tours and pilgrimages.

Besides, it plans to test during this quarter, the prototype of a 5-seater aircraft NM5 that it is building jointly with National Aerospace Laboratories, Mahindra Group Director Hemant Luthra told reporters here.

"There are 150 million in India going for pilgrim and 150 million tourists travelling within the country. If we can tap this segment by giving them 10/18 seaters, then nothing like it."

"There are a series of test that the airplanes have to go through. Test pilot has also been identified for the five-seater," Luthra said.
The 10 and 18-seater planes will be built by GippsAERO, the Australia-based aircraft manufacturing division of Mahindra Aerospace.

Luthra added that it expects the Bangalore plant, which would attract an investment of Rs 280 crore over three years, to begin operations in the next 13 months.

The Rs 280-crore investment is part of the Mahindra's plan to invest Rs 450 crore over the next three years, including acquisitions, and acquiring land for more facilities.

Besides, it is also looking for distributors in North America and Europe. 

"We  are looking for a company that will provide us with technology. Sheet-material expertise is being looked into," he said.

The company has so far manufactured 200 aircraft, which fly in 34 countries around the world, including the US, Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia.