CIVIL AIR­CRAFT MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING IN IN­DIA

The dream of get­ting an in­dige­nously made civil air­craft has fi­nally got the govern­ment to set up a task force to draw a roadmap, pro­vid­ing a ma­jor boost to the ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme

SP's Airbuz - - Front Page - BY SUKHCHAIN SINGH

IN­DIA IS CUR­RENTLY THE ninth largest civil avi­a­tion mar­ket in the world with a mar­ket size of $16 bil­lion. It is among the five fastest grow­ing avi­a­tion mar­kets glob­ally, reg­is­ter­ing a growth rate of over 15.2 per cent year-on-year. The num­ber of pas­sen­gers car­ried by sched­uled do­mes­tic air­lines has in­creased from 103.7 mil­lion in fi­nan­cial year 2013-14 to 158.4 mil­lion in fi­nan­cial year 2016-17. De­spite this high rate of growth, the coun­try is one of the least pen­e­trated air mar­kets in the world with 0.04 trips per capita per an­num com­pared to 0.3 in China and more than two in the US. With con­tin­ued mi­gra­tion from con­ven­tional modes of trans­port, air travel is ex­pected to wit­ness a sim­i­lar growth tra­jec­tory in the fu­ture. This rate of growth sug­gests huge in­vest­ment in air­craft over the next few years. With ‘ Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tives in this seg­ment, it is es­ti­mated that such huge pro­cure­ment costs can be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. Ad­di­tion­ally, this will en­able build­ing up of man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties spurring the much needed growth of the econ­omy. GLOBAL EN­VI­RON­MENT. The global civil­ian air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try is cur­rently an oli­gop­oly, con­sist­ing of Air­bus, Boe­ing, Bom­bardier, Embraer and Tupoloev. Of the five play­ers, Air­bus and Boe­ing com­mand a lion’s share. As a re­sult of the huge in­vest­ments re­quired in this space, the num­ber of play­ers in the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try is un­der­stand­ably lim­ited. Ad­di­tion­ally, pro­duc­tion of a pas­sen­ger air­craft is a com­plex, risky and a long drawn process. Tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced re­gions such as the US and Europe have also taken 15 years to build their learn­ing curves in this seg­ment. As far as In­dian ca­pa­bil­i­ties are con­cerned, the na­tion cur­rently im­ports most of its civil air­craft re­quire­ments. How­ever, with its tech­nol­ogy ab­sorp­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties, it is es­ti­mated that In­dia can also build sig­nif­i­cant ca­pa­bil­i­ties in air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing in the next 10 to 15 years. Cur­rently, In­dian op­er­a­tors con­trol a fleet of ap­prox­i­mately 450 air­craft. How­ever, with grow­ing pas­sen­ger traf­fic ex­pected over the next few years, it is im­per­a­tive for the ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tors to add ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity. Ac­cord­ingly, do­mes­tic play­ers have a re­quire­ment of around 816

new air­craft to cater to the in­cre­men­tal de­mand. How­ever, with no In­dian player with the ca­pa­bil­ity to man­u­fac­ture air­lin­ers, do­mes­tic air­lines have placed huge or­ders with global ma­jors such as Boe­ing, Air­bus and Bom­bardier. The to­tal ex­pen­di­ture in­volved for ac­quir­ing th­ese planes is pro­jected at ap­prox­i­mately $100 bil­lion (`7,00,000 crore). Sev­eral coun­tries have as­pired to build ca­pa­bil­i­ties in this seg­ment. China built its ca­pa­bil­i­ties through cre­ation of a state-con­trolled en­tity - Com­mer­cial Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion of China (COMAC), whereas Brazil ini­ti­ated steps in this di­rec­tion by pri­vatis­ing Embraer, the state-owned aero­space en­tity. THE IN­DIAN EN­VI­RON­MENT. In­dia has made sev­eral at­tempts at skill de­vel­op­ment in ar­eas of strate­gic or na­tional im­por­tance. For ex­am­ple, to build ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing seg­ment — air­craft, he­li­copters and mis­siles, the Govern­ment of In­dia has hand-held de­fence pub­lic sec­tor units for forg­ing part­ner­ships with global aero­space and de­fence ma­jors. In some cases this has been achieved via li­censed pro­duc­tion of trainer air­craft, while in other cases, by man­u­fac­tur­ing sub-sys­tems, com­po­nents and spare parts for he­li­copters and fighter air­craft. Do­mes­tic firms have con­trib­uted notably, grad­u­ally in­creas­ing their learn­ing curves. As a re­sult, the coun­try to­day has built ca­pa­bil­i­ties in im­por­tant seg­ments such as pro­duc­tion of fourth gen­er­a­tion fighter air­craft, ad­vanced he­li­copters (Dhruv and Light Com­bat He­li­copter) and best-in-class mis­siles (BrahMos). A sim­i­lar ap­proach is rec­om­mended in the civil sec­tor for which pool­ing re­quire­ments of do­mes­tic play­ers can be care­fully con­sid­ered. This sec­tor is also likely to re­ceive ma­jor sup­port from other high-tech com­pli­men­tary in­dus­tries such as de­fence, space, IT etc where In­dia has achieved rea­son­able suc­cess in the re­cent past. Such ini­tia­tives will not only open up busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for large and medium en­ter­prises; but also save sub­stan­tial amounts of for­eign ex­change for the econ­omy.

In­dia has made rea­son­able at­tempts to build its own air­craft through sub­stan­tial in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture, cap­i­tal and skill de­vel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, the state-owned Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics (HAL) has man­u­fac­tured in­dige­nously in large num­bers, the multi-pur­pose light trans­port air­craft — Dornier 228 air­craft. HAL bought the pro­duc­tion li­cence for this air­craft from the Ger­man firm Dormer GmbH in 1983. The 19-seater air­craft is be­ing cur­rently used by de­fence forces. Re­cently, the Direc­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion (DGCA) has given ‘cer­tifi­cate of air­wor­thi­ness’ to this air­craft paving the way for its civil use. It is en­vis­aged that the air­craft has sub­stan­tial role to play in en­hanc­ing re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity un­der the am­bi­tious UDAN scheme.

The In­dian mar­ket is cur­rently un­der-served with less than four per cent of its pop­u­la­tion util­is­ing air travel. The grow­ing pas­sen­ger num­bers and a bur­geon­ing mid­dle class in­di­cate the pos­si­bil­ity of healthy growth in pas­sen­ger traf­fic for ma­jor air­lines in the fu­ture. A buoy­ant mar­ket growth rate cou­pled with the ex­pan­sion of in­fra­struc­ture, is likely to help the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try grow at an ac­cel­er­ated space. With large do­mes­tic and global op­por­tu­nity, there ex­ists a real case for build­ing ‘Make in In­dia’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties in this seg­ment. In­dus­try veter­ans sug­gest that an air­craft could be de­vel­oped in­dige­nously in five to seven years at sub­stan­tially lower costs by five per cent or even less. This is in com­par­i­son to the ac­qui­si­tion cost In­dia will be in­cur­ring in aero­space and de­fence sec­tors in the next 10 years. The do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor has re­ceived ma­jor im­pe­tus in the cur­rent pol­icy regime via swift de­ci­sions and host of other pol­icy ini­tia­tives from the govern­ment. There­fore, it is an op­por­tune mo­ment for do­mes­tic and global play­ers to tap into this op­por­tu­nity that has enor­mous po­ten­tial. Global aero­space ma­jors can set up fa­cil­i­ties jointly with do­mes­tic play­ers to lever­age the low-cost en­gi­neer­ing tal­ent while the lat­ter will ac­cu­mu­late the ben­e­fit of tech­ni­cal know-how. Sim­i­lar steps taken in other sec­tors such as in auto and pharma, have re­sulted in huge ca­pa­bil­ity-build­ing in the coun­try. INDIGE­NOUS CIVIL AIR­CRAFT. The dream of get­ting an in­dige­nously made air­craft has fi­nally got the govern­ment to set up a task force to draw a roadmap, pro­vid­ing a ma­jor boost to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s flag­ship ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme. The high-level task force will for­mu­late a plan for the de­vel­op­ment of indige­nous civil air­craft, he­li­copters and as­so­ci­ated avi­a­tion equip­ment un­der the ‘ Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive, en­cour­ag­ing air­craft mak­ers to man­u­fac­ture in the coun­try. The project will also help in pro­mot­ing In­dia as an im­por­tant in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion and global hub for man­u­fac­tur­ing, de­sign­ing and in­no­va­tion. “This is an idea which will ac­tu­ally change the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­fra­struc­ture,” Civil Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter Suresh Prabhu said in the Ra­jya Sabha. “A spe­cial pur­pose ve­hi­cle (SPV) will soon be set up for the project which en­tails an in­vest­ment of 10,000 crore”.

Suresh Prabhu will head the task force which con­sists of 106 mem­bers from com­pa­nies and or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Ltd (HAL), Na­tional Aero­space Lab­o­ra­to­ries, ADA and DRDO for ap­praisal. A Com­mit­tee of Sec­re­taries will take the de­ci­sion on form­ing an SPV. The panel has started work­ing on the project and has al­ready taken sev­eral steps, said Suresh Prabhu, adding that enough fi­nan­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive pow­ers may be sought for the SPV to im­ple­ment the project. He added that the govern­ment’s fo­cus is not only man­u­fac­tur­ing through this project, but it also to en­cour­age any­one who has ca­pa­bil­i­ties to man­u­fac­ture air­craft so that the gap that ex­ists be­tween the de­mand and sup­ply can be filled.

In June 2018, Suresh Prabhu asked Air­bus and Boe­ing, in a se­ries of mes­sages on Twit­ter, to par­tic­i­pate in the push, while high­light­ing the growth po­ten­tial of the boom­ing In­dian avi­a­tion mar­ket. He also said in one of the tweets that the In­dian air­line in­dus­try needs over 1,000 pas­sen­ger planes and “many more” cargo planes. MIL­I­TARY AND CIVIL AIR­CRAFT MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING CA­PA­BIL­ITY. Off­sets. The Min­istry of De­fence in­tro­duced the off­set pol­icy fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from a panel headed by for­mer fi­nance sec­re­tary Vi­jay Kelkar. The panel was tasked with sug­gest­ing mea­sures to in­volve pri­vate play­ers in de­fence equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing un­der a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship model. Af­ter sev­eral rounds of re­vi­sion, civil aero­space and in­ter­nal se­cu­rity deals have also been brought un­der the off­set pol­icy. The off­set limit has now been in­creased from 300 crore to 2,000 crore. The off­set pol­icy en­vi­sions lever­ag­ing big-ticket pur­chases in the de­fence space to ca­jole orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers into giv­ing out­sourc­ing

IN­DIA HAS MADE REA­SON­ABLE AT­TEMPTS TO BUILD ITS OWN AIR­CRAFT THROUGH SUB­STAN­TIAL IN­VEST­MENTS IN IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE, CAP­I­TAL AND SKILL DE­VEL­OP­MENT.

or­ders, trans­fer­ring tech­nolo­gies to In­dian com­pa­nies and in­vest­ing here. The ob­jec­tive is to cre­ate a strong lo­cal ecosys­tem for de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing and step up ex­ports.

In­dia does have full scale air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity ex­cept for tur­bine en­gines. It has had pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­ity since the 1950’s. Trac­ing its roots back to 1941, HAL now builds mil­i­tary trainer air­craft and has pro­posed some brand new fighter jet de­signs. It has also built he­li­copters, agri­cul­tural air­craft and has one of the largest main­te­nance de­pots and en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices in the world. In­dia could build an air­liner if it choses to do so. How­ever, the amount of in­vest­ment is sig­nif­i­cant. HAL man­age­ment has cor­rectly as­sessed that en­ter­ing into com­pe­ti­tion with Boe­ing, Air­bus, Bom­bardier and Embraer would be a high-risk ven­ture with no guar­an­tee of prof­itabil­ity.

HAL and other avi­a­tion sup­pli­ers based in In­dia are sig­nif­i­cant sup­pli­ers of air­craft com­po­nents world­wide. Given the com­plex­i­ties and chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, In­dia has done very well in this spe­cialised area of en­gi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing. Coun­tries such as China are try­ing to come up with their own com­peti­tors to Boe­ing and Air­bus. Comac, the Chi­nese com­peti­tor to th­ese com­pa­nies is first of all state-owned ini­tia­tives. The govern­ment is fund­ing the R&D cost which will be in bil­lions of dol­lars. Apart from that, China had been de­vel­op­ing the C919 for over a decade and still there is more than a decade left be­fore ser­vice en­try. The C919 is years, if not decades, be­hind air­craft made by Air­bus and Boe­ing that are cheaper to fly and eas­ier to main­tain. But, imag­ine the same amount of money be­ing spent by In­dian govern­ment for try­ing to build a com­mer­cial air­line from scratch. Even if we do com­plete the de­sign, there is no guar­an­tee that any air­lines will place or­ders large enough to re­cover the R&D ex­penses. First of all, we in In­dia can­not force any air­line, even Air In­dia for that mat­ter, to only buy indige­nous air­craft else In­dia will be fac­ing lot of heat at global plat­forms for try­ing to pro­tect our In­dus­tries and we In­di­ans, com­pared to Chi­nese, need lots of sup­port from other coun­tries at global plat­forms like UN and other group­ings. Se­condly, even Air In­dia is go­ing to be di­vested to pri­vate in­vestors, so, even us­ing Air In­dia for that mat­ter is not an op­tion. Thirdly, man­u­fac­tur­ing com­mer­cial air­lines re­quires con­tin­u­ous R&D and we can­not just keep sell­ing a sin­gle air­craft for­ever un­like what we do with mil­i­tary air­craft wherein we still man­u­fac­ture and sell fighters based-on 1990s de­sign. Com­mer­cial mar­ket, un­like the mil­i­tary, has cut­throat com­pe­ti­tion and if we don’t keep in­no­vat­ing, we will be left high and dry. But, by the time our first com­mer­cial air­craft de­sign is ready, Boe­ing and Air­bus will be many times bet­ter than our de­sign and they will even have bet­ter com­pet­i­tive­ness in other fac­tors like mileage, etc,though our plat­form could be cheaper.

Our strength lies pri­mar­ily in mil­i­tary air­craft and HAL has al­ready es­tab­lished a good ecosys­tem for man­u­fac­tur­ing th­ese. We should use this to our ad­van­tage and start our com­mer­cial mar­ket en­try with smaller air­craft like 18-seaters which can serve as char­ter air­craft and also can be used un­der UDAN scheme which is used to pro­vide re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity to non-prime air- ports. HAL man­u­fac­tures the Dornier 228 which can be read­ily used to meet civil­ian re­quire­ments and we should try to com­pete in this cat­e­gory of air­craft rather than with Air­bus and Boe­ing. DORNIER 228 BY HAL. HAL and govern­ment of In­dia have al­ready in­di­cated the plan to use Dornier 228 air­craft for civil­ian pur­poses and also, there is al­ready de­mand from plane op­er­a­tors, both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional, for the Dornier air­craft. Plus, In­dia can pro­vide such 18-seater air­craft at a lower cost than other man­u­fac­tur­ers which is an ad­van­tage. Air In­dia has in­di­cated that it could ini­tially ac­quire at least 10 such air­craft to op­er­ate re­gional routes. Pawan Hans, the state-owned he­li­copter com­pany which plans to di­ver­sify into fixed-wing air­craft op­er­a­tions, is also said to be keen on ac­quir­ing the Dornier air­craft. Also, neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Nepal and Sri Lanka are also keen on us­ing Dornier 228 for civil avi­a­tion pur­poses. Thus, we should spend our money on mak­ing Dornier bet­ter equipped rather than waste money try­ing to com­pete with Boe­ing and Air­bus which will do any­thing to stop a new com­peti­tor. We are bet­ter off by up­grad­ing the en­gines and try­ing to get bet­ter range (cur­rently Dornier has a max­i­mum range of 700 km) which could be in­creased with lit­tle R&D. The DGCA which is the civil avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor in In­dia, has al­ready granted per­mis­sion for us­ing Dornier as a civil air­craft.

Apart from us­ing HAL to man­u­fac­ture Dornier 228 for civil­ian trans­port, we need to en­cour­age other pri­vate man­u­fac­tur­ers like Tata and Mahin­dra which also have sim­i­lar 18 to 20-seater air­planes which could com­pete at global lev­els if given lit­tle govern­ment push. In­dian govern­ment needs to en­cour­age man­u­fac­tur­ers with in­cen­tives to use such ‘Made in In­dia’ air­craft for do­mes­tic pur­poses es­pe­cially for UDAN scheme and also help th­ese com­pa­nies mar­ket them world­wide. Such small-size air­crafts can be used for char­ter which are also a bright mar­ket world­wide. Also, our start-up ecosys­tem can come to our aid and we have peo­ple like Cap­tain Amol Ya­dav who have built such small air­craft right on the ter­race.

HAL says that the air­craft has con­sid­er­ably lower list price, op­er­a­tional costs and can land at most re­gional/small air­ports in the coun­try. For in­stance, the price of DO-228 is around 60 crore as com­pared to an es­ti­mated price of over 160 crore for ATR-72.

HAL AND OTHER AVI­A­TION SUP­PLI­ERS BASED IN IN­DIA ARE SIG­NIF­I­CANT SUP­PLI­ERS OF AIR­CRAFT COM­PO­NENTS WORLD­WIDE.

In­diGo, the largest car­rier in terms of mar­ket share, has signed agree­ment with French-Ital­ian air­craft maker ATR for the pur­chase of 50 ATR 72-600s. In­diGo, which pri­mar­ily op­er­ates nar­row­body Air­bus A-320s, will de­ploy ATRs for re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity.

A large ma­jor­ity of air­lines in In­dia and even glob­ally, don’t buy air­craft. In­stead they opt for leas­ing. If the cost of ATR is higher, its leas­ing cost will also be higher. HAL of­fi­cials say that the op­er­a­tional cost of ATRs is over 2 lakh per fly­ing hour in com­par­i­son to DO-228’s 85,000 per hour. The op­er­a­tional ex­penses of air­craft in­cludes crew cost, main­te­nance costs, air­port in­fra­struc­ture costs, mar­ket­ing, land­ing and park­ing charges and dis­tri­bu­tion costs. HAL says that this air­craft is ideal for start-up car­ri­ers.

To cover th­ese costs, ATRs need to have a min­i­mum oc­cu­pancy of 70 per cent. The typ­i­cal seat­ing plan of ATR 72-600 is 70 seats. The op­er­a­tors will have to sell around 50 seats per flight. DO-228, which is Made in In­dia tur­bo­prop with some im­ported com­po­nents and im­ported en­gine ( from Honey­well), has a seat­ing ca­pac­ity of 19. “It’s not dif­fi­cult to fill up those many seats. ATRs may not be prof­itable on re­gional routes as some op­er­a­tors are ex­pect­ing,” says a HAL of­fi­cial. Ac­cord­ing to HAL, the Dornier 228 air­craft re­quires run­way length of 2,100 feet for take­off and 1,800 feet for land­ing which makes it suitable to op­er­ate in al­most 99 per cent of air­ports in In­dia. There are an es­ti­mated 450 airstrips and air­ports in the coun­try. HAL is cur­rently in the process of ac­quir­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the DGCA which is ex­pected by De­cem­ber 2018. EN­TRY OF PRI­VATE SEC­TOR. In the wake of lib­er­al­i­sa­tion in the early 1990s, pri­vate par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sec­tor made mod- est begin­nings and has steadily grown since then. Some of the prom­i­nent pri­vate com­pa­nies that have en­tered the sec­tor are: Tata Ad­vance Sys­tems Ltd (TASL). Of all the con­tenders, TASL ap­pears to be the one near­est to ac­quir­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity to man­u­fac­ture full air­craft, radars and un­manned Ae­rial Ve­hi­cles (UAVs). It has tied up with Air­bus for the man­u­fac­ture of C-295 trans­port air­craft, a re­place­ment for Avro HS-748. Its part­ner­ship with Air­bus for C-295 would in­clude sup­ply of 16 air­craft in fly-away con­di­tion and 40 to be built in In­dia. This would be a ma­jor break­through for pri­vate par­tic­i­pa­tion. Mahin­dra Aero­space. Mahin­dra Group en­tered the aero­space in­dus­try in 2008 through its new en­tity Mahin­dra Aero­space. In 2010, it ac­quired Aus­tralian en­tity’s Gipps Aero and Aerostaff. It is the first In­dian com­pany to go into full air­craft pro­duc­tion, al­beit a small one and that too out­side In­dia. In 2010, this com­pany be­gan de­vel­op­ing a 25,000 square me­tre fa­cil­ity out­side Ben­galuru to pro­duce air­frame parts and as­sem­blies within the coun­try. The fa­cil­ity was for­mally in­au­gu­rated in 2013 and is now de­liv­er­ing aero­space sheet metal parts and as­sem­blies for global com­pa­nies. The com­pany re­cently signed a “State­ment of In­tent” with Air­bus He­li­copters for form­ing a joint ven­ture to pro­duce mil­i­tary he­li­copters in In­dia. Bharat Forge. This is an­other In­dian com­pany that Air­bus is look­ing at to have some of its air­craft parts forged in In­dia as the next log­i­cal step to ex­pand­ing its sup­plier base and out­sourc­ing ac­tiv­ity in a fast-grow­ing mar­ket. Bharat Forge is al­ready hav­ing a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment with Boe­ing. Reliance De­fence Ltd. This is a wholly-owned sub­sidiary of Anil Am­bani’s Reliance Group. It has set up the Dhirub­hai Am­bani Aero­space park spread over 400 acres at Nag­pur for the man­u­fac­ture of aero­space com­po­nents. It has en­tered into a joint ven­ture with Rafael Ad­vance De­fence Sys­tems Ltd, Is­rael. The ini­tial out­lay for the joint ven­ture, ex­clud­ing the tech­nol­ogy cost, will be 1,300 crore. The com­pany will be lo­cated at Pitham­pur near In­dore, Mad­hya Pradesh and it will make air-to-air mis­siles, air de­fence sys­tems and large air ships. As per the cur­rent guide­lines of the Cen­tre, 51 per cent hold­ing in the com­pany would be from Reliance De­fence and the rest would be held by Rafael. The JV is ex­pected to pro­vide a big thrust for the indige­nous de­vel­op­ment of high pre­ci­sion weapons sys­tem in In­dia. SUM­MING UP. It is ev­i­dent that lack of do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties for al­most seven decades, both in civil avi­a­tion and de­fence aero­space man­u­fac­tur­ing, had re­mained a ma­jor worry till the early 1990s. Af­ter open­ing up of this seg­ment to the pri­vate sec­tor in the post-lib­er­al­i­sa­tion pe­riod in 1990s, the sec­tor has shown con­sid­er­able progress. Af­ter the Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive an­nounced by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in Septem­ber 2014, there are signs that things are chang­ing for the bet­ter. The aero­space sec­tor in the coun­try is at the in­flec­tion point, sim­i­lar to the tele­com and au­to­mo­tive sec­tors two or three decades ago. Hence it needs sus­tained govern­ment sup­port to de­velop crit­i­cal mass, skills and R&D to achieve its full po­ten­tial. If things are done right, with the ex­ist­ing tech­nol­ogy which is tried and tested, In­dia can be a ma­jor player in the 18 to 40 seater air­craft mar­ket and can com­pete with other global play­ers. Also, the large do­mes­tic mar­ket which is set to be­come the third largest in the world can play a key role in aid­ing the process. With the ex­per­tise ob­tained in R&D of the 18 to 40 seater air­craft, In­dia can look at tak­ing on Boe­ing and Air­bus some­time later in the next decade. Af­ter all, Rome was not built in a day!

IN THE WAKE OF LIB­ER­AL­I­SA­TION IN THE EARLY 1990S, PRI­VATE PAR­TIC­I­PA­TION IN THE SEC­TOR MADE MOD­EST BEGIN­NINGS AND HAS STEADILY GROWN SINCE THEN.

TAC-003 Thrust Air­craft built by Cap­tain Amol Ya­dav

Mahin­dra’s GA8-TC Air­van

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