Airbus and In­dia

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - News -

The Airbus story in In­dia be­gan in 1976, when In­dian Air­lines be­came the first op­er­a­tor of the A300 B2 in Asia and this start has con­tin­ued over the next four decades with hun­dreds of var­i­ous Airbus mod­els, no­tably the A320, fly­ing in var­i­ous colours through­out the sub­con­ti­nent and on regional in­ter­na­tional routes.

The Airbus story in In­dia be­gan in 1976, with de­liv­ery of three A300(B2)s to In­dian Air­lines – the first do­mes­tic air­line cus­tomer for the type. The A300, and later the A310, were the air­craft that ce­mented the then-fledg­ling Airbus In­dus­trie’s rep­u­ta­tion as a ma­jor man­u­fac­turer of air­craft, paving the way for the Com­pany’s mod­ern suc­cesses such as the A330, A320, A380 and A350. Hun­dreds of A300/A310s re­main in ser­vice to­day, and Airbus projects that some 200 will still be op­er­a­tional around the world in 2025, more than half a cen­tury af­ter the first A300 pro­to­type took the air!

The very next Airbus prod­uct, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary fly- by- wire A320, saw sim­i­larly en­thu­si­as­tic ac­cep­tance in In­dian skies, and in­deed has be­come some­thing of a ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence in the sub­con­ti­nent. Once again, In­dian Air­lines was the first cus­tomer, tak­ing de­liv­ery in 1989 but it was the eco­nomic lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of the 1990s that laid the ground­work for the A320’s run­away suc­cess in the In­dian mar­ket. Nearly ev­ery new main­line air­line es­tab­lished in the 2000s – from low-cost car­ri­ers Dec­can, GoAir and Indigo, to full-ser­vice King­fisher – adopted the A320 for their nar­row­body needs. Later en­trants to the mar­ket, AirAsia In­dia and Vis­tara, also se­lected the A320 for their sin­gle-type fleets.

By the mid-2000s, the wide­body A330 also be­gan to re­ceive some at­ten­tion in In­dia, and the A330-200 en­tered ser­vice with Jet Air­ways in April 2007. In De­cem­ber 2012, Jet re­ceived its first A330-300s, and put it into ser­vice on the Mum­bai-Brus­sels route later that same month. Air In­dia also briefly

op­er­ated leased ex­am­ples of the type, but Jet was and re­mains the only long-term owner and op­er­a­tor of the A330 in In­dia.

The ad­vent of ‘sharklet’ blended winglets for the A320 in place of the older wingtip fences, along with an­nounce­ment of the reengined ‘new en­gine op­tion’ (neo), brought about some­thing of an A320 resur­gence not just in In­dia but also the world. In 2011, when IndiGo was the fastest-grow­ing car­rier in In­dia and soon to be the largest by mar­ket share, the air­line placed a mam­moth 180-air­craft or­der for 150 A320­neo and 30 A320ceo. This was fol­lowed by a 72-air­craft or­der from GoAir in June that year.

In June 2014, new en­trant AirAsia In­dia, a joint ven­ture of Malaysia’s AirAsia Ber­had, Tata Sons and Te­lestra Trade­place, com­menced op­er­a­tions in In­dia, fly­ing the A320. In Jan­uary the next year, another Tata Sons joint ven­ture, this time a full-ser­vice car­rier called Vis­tara, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines (SIA), took to the skies, again ex­clu­sively on the A320.

In­de­pen­dence Day 2015 brought more head­lines, with IndiGo con­firm­ing a 250-air­craft for the A320­neo – the largest or­der by num­ber in Airbus his­tory. The air­line be­came the first neo op­er­a­tor in In­dia in March 2016, and is the world’s largest op­er­a­tor of the new type, with over 20 cur­rently in ser­vice.

GoAir fol­lowed IndiGo, tak­ing de­liv­ery of its first A320­neo in June 2016. The air­line an­nounced its in­ten­tion to add another 72 neos to its fleet at the Farn­bor­ough Air Show in 2016, and firmed up this com­mit­ment in Jan­uary 2017, tak­ing their cu­mu­la­tive or­der book to 144 A320­neos. In Fe­bru­ary 2017, Air In­dia joined the ranks of In­dian A320­neo op­er­a­tors, with the first of four­teen leased CFM In­ter­na­tional LEAP-1A-pow­ered A320­neos ar­riv­ing at New Delhi.

‘Work­ing in In­dia’

Airbus’ in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion with In­dia be­gan in the 1980s when an agree­ment was reached with Hindustan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) to man­u­fac­ture for­ward pas­sen­ger doors for the A320. HAL now pro­duces half of all A320 for­ward pas­sen­ger doors. In ad­di­tion, Airbus’ list of In­dian part­ners and sup­pli­ers has ex­panded to en­com­pass en­gi­neer­ing, IT ser­vices, tech­ni­cal pub­li­ca­tions, re­search and tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tur­ing of aerostruc­tures, de­tail parts and sub-assem­blies. More than 5,000 pro­fes­sion­als na­tion­wide con­trib­ute di­rectly or in­di­rectly to all Airbus air­craft pro­grammes.

Airbus In­dia En­gi­neer­ing, for ex­am­ple, spe­cialises in high- tech aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing, with 350-plus In­dian en­gi­neers work­ing hand-in-hand with other Airbus of­fices around the world, as well as with the In­dian aero­space in­dus­try. The Ban­ga­lore­based cen­tre fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ment of ad­vanced ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the ar­eas of mod­el­ling and sim­u­la­tion, em­bed­ded sys­tems soft­ware, sys­tems in­stal­la­tion, dig­i­tal mock- up, struc­tural anal­y­sis, ma­te­ri­als and prop­er­ties, loads and weight es­ti­ma­tions, sys­tem test­ing, com­pu­ta­tional fluid dy­nam­ics (CFD), as well as process, meth­ods and tools – with im­pact on a range of air­craft pro­grammes such as the A380, A350 XWB and A320­neo.

Airbus has a sim­i­larly broad train­ing and sup­port foot­print in the coun­try, and Airbus Train­ing In­dia (ATI) in Ban­ga­lore has pro­vided main­te­nance train­ing to more than 2,250 peo­ple from air­lines in In­dia and neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. An Airbus pre­ferred pi­lot train­ing cen­tre was es­tab­lished in the na­tional cap­i­tal re­gion in co­op­er­a­tion with CAE and In­ter­globe in 2013, and a ded­i­cated Airbus Train­ing Cen­tre is un­der con­struc­tion near Delhi’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, in­tended to be op­er­a­tional by end-2018. Airbus’ en­hanced cus­tomer sup­port net­work from In­dia cov­ers In­dia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Mal­dives. Cus­tomers in In­dia are sup­ported from two hubs in Mum­bai and Delhi.

Vis­tara has am­bi­tious growth plans that could see Airbus fur­ther in­crease its foot­print in the sub­con­ti­nent

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