Make in India: Aircrafts

Be it Boeing, Airbus or recently in news France’s Dassault Aviation, all will have a win-win situation by setting up manufacturing facilities in India, may be, by roping in an Indian partner to jointly manufacture aircrafts in different categories. India though has agreed to buy 36 Rafales from Dassault, as its next step it may pursue the French firm to sign up an Indian partner and form a joint venture company in which the local firm could own up to 51 per cent stake. The JV firm could execute the contract to supply the remaining planes. Tata can be one of the good prospective local players with lot of expertise in aircraft components. Tata can be a player in manufacturing of helicopters too that are required in pretty good numbers in the entire region.

Even for civil aircrafts, India and it’s region,the fastest growing one in the world with huge market makes the Make-in-India strategy a commercially viable proposition. For example as per one estimate, ‘India would need 1,600 more aircraft over the next 20 years – that’s explosive growth. India’s 400 million strong middle class – by far the biggest in the world, hanker for efficient connectivity between district towns to state capitals, and then with the metros of the country and the destinations abroad. All this creates demand for better air services. Mahindra with a small aircraft manufacturing company in Austalia in its fold and its intention to extend that manufacturing to India, can be good vendor for locally flying machines.

With China and Pakistan, the unscrupulous neighbours for our peace loving democracy, a similar high demand will persist in airforce machines too. HAL may focus on such machine. The success of Tejas must have given confidence of manufacturing competitive products for airforce.

India is also strategically located as manufacturing base with advantage of having huge talented human resources for R&D and design centres, obvious because of the so many development centres of big MNCs in manufacturing sector. India facilities can supply to the entire region.

A growing number of reputed business groups, Tatas, M&M, Bharat Forge, Wipro as well as new entrepreneurs such as Dynamatic Technologies, Aequs, Titan’s Precision Engineering are already setting up facilities for manufacturing components for sector and are ready to be reliable vendors for aviation sector. Dynamatic supplies flap track beams for the A330 family of Airbus long-range jets. Dynamatic will soon supply directly to Airbus and thus become the first Indian private sector company to become a global Tier-I supplier to Airbus.The outsourced commercial aerospace manufacturing appears to be taking root in India. Wipro has invested Rs 60 crore in its new seven-acre facility in Bangalore. Mahindra Group has invested $70 (Rs 420 crore) million in its Bangalore facility. Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL), Tata Sons’ subsidiary for its aerospace and defence business, has invested in an aerospace manufacturing facility in Adibatla, near Hyderabad. Tata Advanced Systems Ltd produces the Sikorsky S92 fuselage (main cabin) as a single source in India. It also rolled out the first cabin for S92, a four-bladed helicopter in November 2011 and the company has produced more than 80.Mahindra Aerospace plant in Bangalore will assemble components and aerostructures in sheet metal, machining, and special processing. It is doing simple to complex detailed parts and doing sub-assemblies, and can start doing larger aerostructures. Wipro makes actuators for landing gears.Titan’s Precision Engineering Division makes machined components for aero engines and engine accessories. Its customers include the UTC Group (a Tier-I supplier), Prat and Whitney, and Rolls Royce, among others.

As reported, “Airbus plans to increase its Indian outsourcing from $400 million to $2 billion in next five years.” May be the next step for Airbus will be to start the aggregating facility in India. Moreover as reported in media, “Airbus is willing to set up final assembly lines and establish supply chains and related infrastructure for military transport aircraft and helicopters in India. Airbus Defence and Space has submitted a joint proposal with Tata to produce the modern C-295 aircraft in India as a replacement for the ageing Avro aircraft of the Indian Air Force.The division also plans to develop and manufacture electronic sensors with a partner in India and has advanced discussions to support Hindustan Aeronautics’ (HAL) combat aircraft programme.”

HAL facilities with the type of management and its past record will not be able to meet the total critical requirement of the nation. It still continues to manufacture everything in-house and has failed to develop the required number of reliable vendors for its product lines. It will require a re engineering of its facilities based on different product categories- military operational, helicopters, transport planes. It will have to have integrated design and development centres with each of the divisions. I do’t know under government if HAL can become a global class player in aircraft manufacturing.

All these factors must make the global players in aircraft manufacturing to set up their aircraft aggregating assembly shops in India.

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