Ever since JRD Tata received the first pilot license issued in India in 1929 and the launch of Tata Airlines three years later, the country has continued its dedication to the field. India even has its own air show – Aero India Show – which began in 1996 and now attracts around 380 exhibitors from more than 20 countries.
In DemandEstablished aerospace organizations, both large and small, are now queuing up to forge bonds with Indian enterprise. Last year, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) reported that more than 86% of U.S. civil and military aerospace contractors were planning to enter into joint ventures with Indian aerospace companies in 2008.
In February of this year, Rick Stephens, senior vice president of The Boeing Company explained, “We want to see India become a critical link in our global supply chain. Boeing has established a strong presence in India and is not shy to say that we are seeking to become India’s preferred aerospace partner and provider.”
Many European organizations have already established relationships with Indian aerospace companies. After signing a memorandum of understanding with Cades in 2006, Fokker indicated that, following a stringent selection process, India was chosen as the most realistic location for cooperation for several reasons: English is widely spoken; the country has an excellent infrastructure; there are many highly educated people there; and the country has a strong reputation for aeronautics.
In 2006, Rolls-Royce plc celebrated 50 years of partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) in Bangalore, the largest defense manufacturer in India. Martin Fausset, managing director of Rolls-Royce Defense Aerospace, commented in 2007, “We are rightly proud of our rich history of collaboration with the Indian aerospace industry, but we are also working closely with our customers and HAL to ensure we continue to make history.”
LimitationsDoing business in India can be tricky for foreign organizations. The AIA, which completed their first trade mission to India in December 2007, learned that there are strict policies on accepting foreign defense contracts. This makes business contracts with domestic Indian companies essential for success. This involves ensuring that the Indian company receives a share of any major aerospace contracts. In addition, India’s offset policy requires 30% of the value of the foreign defense contract to be offset by direct purchases, investments or transfer of technology to India.
There have been other reported drawbacks related to working in India such as a lack of specific industry or technical knowledge. However, 75% of respondents to an industry survey last year found that India had an adequate to large supply of well-qualified entry-level engineers compared with 59% who responded that the U.S. had adequate supply.
Professional DevelopmentIndia has long recognized the importance of qualified engineers to the aerospace industry. In 1942, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore started offering a post-graduate course in aeronautical engineering. A report last year showed that India has 350,000 engineering graduates annually.
In 2007, Goodrich Corporation showed its commitment to developing the industry by hosting a series of training sessions for their suppliers in India, including Introduction to Pyrometry. These events were arranged by PRI and Kevin Ward, corporate director at Goodrich Corporation, who said, “This event was great for our supply chain, and I believe it has exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
Further professional development sessions are taking place in India in September by eQuaLearn, PRI’s professional-development arm.
Quality FocusThe position of the Indian aerospace industry has been further strengthened by the commitment of several companies to Nadcap accreditation. Nadcap is the leading worldwide cooperative program of major companies designed to manage a cost-effective consensus approach to special processes and products and provide continual improvement within the aerospace and automotive industries.
Over 40 Nadcap special-process audits have taken place in India since 2005, of which approximately 10% were for heat treatment. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., TATA Advanced Materials Ltd. and Maini Precision Products Pvt. Ltd. are among the organizations that have committed to continual improvement and excellence in special-process quality by participating in the Nadcap program.
The FutureThe aerospace sector has grown significantly in India in recent years and looks set to continue to expand. Moving forward, it is anticipated that India will continue to establish itself as an aerospace engineering center of excellence. It seems, though, that it will face competition from other countries developing in the aerospace field such as China and Mexico.
Arshad Hafeez, director of global operations at PRI explained, “This is an exciting era for the aerospace industry. The challenge is to ensure continual improvement of quality and personnel while operating in an increasingly globally competitive arena.” IH
For more information on PRI, Nadcap or professional development opportunities, visit www.pri-network.org