Logistics

An Indian touch to global aerospace companies

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 05, 2016

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Firms here help aircraft-makers in developed nations cut costs

Aerospace and defence companies in India are helping aircraft-makers in developed countries to cut costs. Even as the US fighter jet-makers Lockheed Martin and Boeing have expressed interest to set up manufacturing facilities in India, several other aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Bombardier have made Indian companies part of their global supply chains.

Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin and Boeing met Defence Ministry officials to discuss the possible production of F-16 Super Viper and FA-18 Super Hornet fighter jets in India. Lockheed Martin’s largest programme, the C-130J Super Hercules, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, already has an Indian touch.

New mantra

Phil Shaw, Chief Executive for Lockheed Martin India, said the C-130J Super Hercules was the first major military contract between the US and India. “Now, all C-130Js produced have major elements manufactured in India,” Shaw told BusinessLine.

Component manufacturing appears to be the new mantra for Indian companies. Tata Advanced Material Limited (TAML) bagging an extended 10-year agreement with Austria firm FACC Operation, for the supply of Rolls-Royce engine components is a case in point.

“Aerospace companies have been gunning for Indian firms as suppliers of high value components, and eventually as assemblers of aircraft. The complexity of the industry’s technology, the importance of protecting intellectual property with regards to aircraft engine design or avionics, and the relationship between military and civilian technology have been hurdles in the past, but no more,” said an industry expert, adding that cost advantage was clearly the chief attraction.

Cyient solutions

Hyderabad-based Cyient has also supported a number of critical design-engineering projects for Boeing airplanes, and currently provides design and stress support on the 747-8 Freighter and the 787-8 and 787-9.

In an earlier interaction with BusinessLine, Cyient’s Executive Chairman BVR Mohan Reddy said as a Boeing supplier partner for decades, Cyient has been providing a broad range of engineering skills and solutions to Boeing that include product development and lifecycle support, and content engineering.

“It is not just cost. The ability to develop aircraft, manage supply chain, coordinate manufacturing, and assemble a plane’s structure is critical. All of these are available in India,” he said.

Cost-competitiveness

Srinivasan Dwarakanath, President of the Airbus Division at Airbus Group India, explained how Airbus’ cooperation with India offers the benefits of cost-competitiveness and a highly-skilled workforce. “There is something made in India in every one of our aircraft being produced today,” Dwarakanath said.

Airbus’ largest Indian partner is Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which produces half of the A320 Family’s forward passenger doors. HAL began supplying Airbus since the 1990s.

Similarly, TAML has been providing composite parts for Airbus’ A320 and A350 XWB wing, while TAL Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Tata Motors, supplies over 500 sheet metal and machined parts and sub-assemblies.

In the case of Airbus, supporting these major suppliers is a growing network of small and medium-sized Indian companies, like CIM Tools, Gardner-Pranitha, Triveni and Sansera Aerospace.

Published on May 05, 2016
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