NEW DELHI: The civil aviation sector in India, which till now was dependent on foreign countries for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, is planning to have indigenous facilities.
At a day-long seminar titled “Make in India: Challenges and Opportunities in Civil Aviation Sector” held here, stakeholders from the sector stressed on the need to develop such service centres in India.
Organized by the Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism (FAST), the event was attended by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma.
Speaking on the occasion, Raju said, “As of now, it is heavily dependent on imports. Everything is imported, including servicing of aircraft. If you look at airlines, except Air India, all other airlines for their routine checkups are going out of the country. They are going to Singapore, Dubai and Sri Lanka. So, we need to pull in that 700 million dollar business into India.”
MRO works of aircraft are mostly done overseas by local carriers as costs are high in the country. However, many companies, including Pawan Hans Ltd., are now planning to develop MRO services in the country.
Dr. B.P. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, Pawans Hans Ltd, “Pawan Hans is coming forward in two areas mainly - one is development of MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul). We are starting it at two places in Delhi and at Juhu airport in Mumbai. And then we have a plan to extend it to other part of the country in Northeast at Guwahati and one in southern region. Presently there is no MRO facility for helicopters and it’s a big business. We are coming forward with this. The new Make in India also support this. This will also create lot of job opportunities for pilot and aircraft engineers.
Besides, passenger services and manufacturing, the civil aviation ministry is also encouraging training and skill development under the `Make in India’ initiative.
Anuj Aggarwal, Member HR and Commercial, Airports Authority of India, “The civil aviation sector has a major role to play in the Government of India’s Make in India initiative. Civil aviation doesn’t mean transportation of passengers and cargo, but it’s connectivity between two cities and two countries. We have to add a lot through `Make in India’ initiative. It’s not only about manufacturing but the manpower, training, skill development, which various sections of civil aviation are engaged in. We have also strengthened training institutes at the Airports Authority of India which will not only develop skills of the Airport Authority of India officials, but others also.”
V P Agrawal, Vice President, Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism, said, “Make in India initiative has to happen in India, which has been delayed a lot. I feel India is going to become third largest market by 2020. And by that time we are going to need lot of resources maybe in the form of machinery, maybe in the form of skilled manpower. And this has to happen and we can’t depend all the time on imports. So gradually we have to move towards even towards manufacturing which is a touch call, but the day has come, time has come, opportunity has come when we should start thinking on that, working on that.”
The ministry is also considering ways to enhance regional connectivity by utilizing unexploited infrastructure. It is also encouraging new players to venture into domestic air connectivity.
Lt. Gen. K M Seth, President, Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism, said, “There are 350 airfields across the country which are unused. Today, we have 85 airports which are fully developed, but they are not used. First, we must connect these 85, then go for regional connectivity, which the minister feels each region should have connectivity. Today, we connect not more than 80 districts out of 680. We got to connect all.
The unprecedented growth of the Indian aviation industry has drawn a lot of interest amongst foreign airlines, aircraft manufacturers and tourism industry.
The Make in India initiative has now brought the focus to a great extent on the manufacturing sector and address the key challenges’ confronting the aviation industry.