Pune, India (PressExposure) February 16, 2009 -- If Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has a comfortable heli-hop around the South American nation, the credit goes to it's thanks to a lesser known Pune-based engineering design firm Tooltech. The firm has customised the to be exported by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. This is the first-time an Indian firm has entered the highly competitive and specialised business of aircraft interiors for the well-heeled, said Tooltech president and chief mentor A Vivek, on the sidelines of the Aero India2009. While there are no estimates on the size of the aircraft interiors market, the sky is the limit, the senior executive said, adding Tooltech would go aggressive in tapping the space where it entered very recently.
For starters, the five-year-old company, which has a turnover of Rs100 crore, is scouting for an acquisition in Europe or elsewhere to add to its aerospace design capabilities. The strategy is in line with its earlier game plan of acquiring design services companies in Europe to gain skills and customers, added Vivek. Tooltech is a substantial player in the European auto design market with marquee customer on its list.
Till date, it has acquired three companies, two in Sweden and one in Germany, at a total cost of over 5 million euros. While the acquisition of Ideteknik and Aspinova in Sweden added such biggies as SAAB, Volvo and Daimler to its kitty, the acquisition of another company MT Misslbeck Engineering in Germany, gave it access to customers like Daimler and others. However, the breakthrough to enter the aerospace business came Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.(HAL) commissioned it to make interiors for India's first export order of seven advanced light helicopters (ALH), Dhruv to Equador at $7 million apiece, including one with custom-built interiors for the president.
"While this was a modest beginning for us, we are confident the presidential helicopter will open up doors for Tooltech," said Vivek. The company posted a turnover of Rs 100 crore last year and is hoping to grow despite the current slowdown. The contract, the first of its kind, to design and manufacture VVIP interiors for the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) meant that Tooltech had to build to meet stringent standards, he added. Interestingly, the project was completed within 45 days of its award, he added. It involved the development of world class interiors for the two variants of Dhruv- wheeled and skid versions -requiring the design of composite panels to provide comforts while ensuring they did not add to the weight, reduced the sound by 10 decibels and met all other safety and other standards. Potential customers for Tooltech include the defence forces, BSF, CISF, ONGC, and several other establishments' private and public corporations engaged in off shore projects. While companies in most of these sectors are placing orders for functional helicopters, they also want some with custom-built interiors for senior executive use. The company is now aggressively biding for projects for helicopter design and hopes to benefit significantly from the government's offset.