Chennai may become hub for dismantling aircraft parts soon

Used Serviceable Materials (USMs), which are taken out of abandoned aircraft and are installed in active commercial aircraft, are experiencing a high demand worldwide.

Published: 10th May 2022 07:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2022 07:18 AM   |  A+A-

Old aircraft, Dismantled aircraft

Representational image. (File photo| EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Chennai could soon become the hub for dismantling aircraft as parts harvested in the city from abandoned aircraft are being sold to refurbish other aircraft around the world. "The market is huge," said Pandian Sokku, managing director of Chennai-based maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) company Nano Aviation India Pvt Limited.

Being the first in India to dismantle a Boeing 777 plane of the Jet Airways, his company is now flooded with calls to dismantle aircraft from across the country. "I have dismantled seven aircraft in Chennai and getting more orders," he said.

The industry

Used Serviceable Materials (USMs), which are taken out of abandoned aircraft and are installed in active commercial aircraft, are experiencing a high demand worldwide owing to their ability to lower the maintenance cost.

Notably, several MRO providers around the world are extensively using USMs owing to a rising number of aging aircraft. As such, a majority of aircraft spares in the market are recycled ones.

They are sold after getting a certification from authorities concerned. Many airlines use it, Pandian said.
Earlier in India, spare parts of leased aircraft could not be imported or exported. Now, however, RBI has changed Foreign Exchange Management Act framework to allow Indian players to export leased aircraft, helicopters, and engines, either fully or knocked down.

Chennai Airport Director Dr Sharad Kumar said there are two categories of aircraft — one that is turned into scrap due to its being grounded for long and the another, recoverable. Recently, the Airport Authority of India auctioned four F-27 aircraft of the erstwhile NEPC Airlines. Scrap dealers bought these planes.

An B-77-300 ER, grounded by the erstwhile Jet Airways for over a year and belonging to the second category, however, was dismantled by Nano Aviation. There were also seven ATR 72-500 aircraft of the King Fisher Airlines, grounded since 2012.

Three of them have been attached by the excise department for non-payment of taxes. Of the four aircraft, two have been purchased by Nano Aviation, said Dr Kumar.

Opportunity for government

The dismantling of the Jet Airways plane took three months and provided jobs to 100 people, piquing government's interest. "It also generated huge revenue and foreign exchange. As such, the government is looking to develop this sector similar to how it did with the Alang Ship Breaking Yard in Gujarat," said Pandian.

On Chennai's suitability for the sector, he said having a port nearby makes transportation easier. "I can't do it in Hyderabad or Bengaluru as I have to transport the spares by road to the port. In Chennai, the port is hardly takes two to three hours away. About 90 per cent of aircraft spares export is done via the sea," he said.


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