Thursday, February 07, 2019

Inside the Reliance-Dassault factory that's making Falcon 2000 jets in Nagpur

In 3 years, fully locally assembled Dassault Falcon 2000 business jets will roll off an Indo-French 150,000 square foot production line near Nagpur's airport. With giant hangars currently under construction at Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) and the first Indian-built cockpit section of a Falcon 2000 - Dassault's bestselling business jet - to be delivered tomorrow to the French partner, work is apace to scale up towards assembling the full aircraft in India by 2022.

The work continues nearly 1,000 km from India's national capital where this facility is not seen amicably in one of India's most vitiated political atmospheres.

If 2019's election season in India ever had a list of the most controversial corporate sites, this one would effortlessly be top of the pack. It is here that France's Dassault and India's Reliance Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group (ADAG) have forged a corporate alliance to build aircraft parts. A facility that has, over the months, become the highlight of a continuing political war waged by India's opposition Congress Party on the Narendra Modi government.

For the first time since its inception in 2017 - and certainly since the political scandal over India's Rafale jet deal broke - India Today was among a small group of reporters given access today to the facility. For a full year now, this facility has functioned physically far from public view, but relentlessly in allegations leveled. Its very existence has been the core of one of the most ferocious political punch-up in recent memory.

Asked if the political war has impacted work here at the facility, Dassault Aviation Senior Executive VP International Benoit Dussaugey says, "Not at all. We've made our road and we follow our path. We won't change our strategy based on politics. We are not affected and cannot comment on what is said by ZYZ."
07/02/19 Shiv Aroor/Business Today