Flight Plan

‘India can be a global player’

Parag Wadhawan | Updated on May 16, 2021

Reduce aerospace imports; build synergy

When air travel picks up after the Covid-19 wave ebbs, airlines in India will once again be looking at increasing their fleet capacity. According to various estimates, the country will need more than 2,300 new planes over the next 20 years, at a value of about $330 billion. To operate and maintain this fleet, it will need to spend $440 billion.

While this presents a huge opportunity for aircraft manufacturers and leasing companies, it will also be a big boost for vendors and allied services. So, it is equally important to ramp up the supply base and engineering capabilities for indigenous content — to support not only the Indian market but also global markets. Currently, there are multiple new programmes in India dealing with design, development and manufacture. We are also certifying suppliers with new capabilities. However, the next focus should be certifying raw materials to reduce the dependency on imports.

Government role

The government’s confidence in the private sector and an invitation to global companies to set up shop is a great start towards India’s self-reliance journey, and a big opportunity for global aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), who have long stood on the sidelines. It depends on India now to leverage this opportunity to transform itself into a premium global aerospace player.

Critical areas such as maintenance, repair and overhaul, or component manufacturing hold great potential and should be tapped.

The government should support the private sector in its R&D and manufacturing capabilities. Working together on policies that create a favourable environment for foreign investment, sharing technology, building synergy, etc. is the need of the hour.

Competitive advantage

With low labour cost, abundant resources and high aircraft demand, India has all the ingredients of an attractive market. In the latest edition of FDI’s Aerospace Cities of the Future 2020-21 rankings, Hyderabad was ranked number one under the category ‘Top 10 Aerospace Cities in Cost Effectiveness’. The other Indian cities that also made it to the top 10 list are New Delhi and Bengaluru.

The active participation of global players is expected to further boost the growth of the aerospace industry in India. Manufacturers from across the world are already partnering with Indian suppliers and small and medium enterprises to meet the needs of tier-1 suppliers and build a cutting-edge aerospace industry ecosystem. It is a great opportunity for start-ups as well as established players.

(Parag Wadhawan is Executive Director, Collins Aerospace)

Published on May 16, 2021

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