Deepak Talwar praises Make in India in Civil Aviation

“India’s aviation sector is rife with opportunities. The lives of the middle class are changing, and their aspirations are rising. Indian aviation has the potential to do amazing things if given the right opportunity,” says Deepak Talwar, the seasoned market analyst and lobbyist.

In October 2016, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) released a document titled ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) on the Regional Connectivity Scheme. This scheme aims to improve regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development, as specified in the June 2016 National Civil Aviation Policy. Pertaining to this, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first flight of Alliance Air under the UDAN scheme from Shimla to Delhi.

In 2016, India had the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world, and it is expected to become the third and largest aviation market by 2050. “Civil aviation is a significant industry with enormous economic potential that, if properly capitalised on, has the potential to become an engine of growth for the aviation industry,” says Deepak Talwar, the seasoned market analyst and lobbyist. He discusses India’s efforts to ‘Make in India’ in the civil aviation sector, as well as the need for initiatives to promote indigenous design and development in this sector.

‘Make in India’ and indigenisation are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to design and development in India. Indigenisation could entail the development of a product by local vendors, whereas ‘Make in India’ would entail the local manufacture of products [designed and developed by foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)] with or without technology transfer. Indigenously designed products, on the other hand, are those created by Indian entities. “In order to improve regional air connectivity, India is purchasing commercial aircraft and developing/upgrading airports,” informs Deepak Talwar.

The ‘Make in India’ (or indigenous design and development) initiative in the aviation sector has primarily focused on military aviation and has yet to take off in civil aviation, despite having enormous economic and technological benefits. The seasoned market analyst and lobbyist Deepak Talwar says, “Research, design, and development of commercial passenger aircraft and ground systems have not received adequate attention. A closer examination of the civil aviation sector reveals enormous potential for the design and development of support infrastructure and equipment such as radars, air navigation systems, airport and approach aids, air traffic systems, and so on.”

The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative has the potential to energise the indigenous civil aviation industry. It has the potential to spur indigenous design, development, and manufacturing in the civil aviation industry. To develop these technologies as well as future air traffic systems, MoCA would need to take ownership and become involved in R&D of commercial passenger aircraft, airport aids, and navigation systems. Similarly, acquisitions of commercial passenger aircraft have enormous potential for acquiring enabling technologies and local manufacturing of aircraft, systems, and subsystems from OEMs.

Deepak Talwar concludes, “The concept of off-the-shelf purchases and lifetime product support, for example, may be beneficial to small commercial operators, but it does not strengthen the aviation eco-system—in fact, such a system ensures continued reliance on OEMs.” The strengthening of the MoCA’s certification system would encourage innovation and indigenous development in civil aviation manufacturing. Military aviation, automobiles, and other civil industries would benefit from civil aviation technology.

The expansion of the aircraft manufacturing industry would create jobs, reduce the country’s cash outflow, and reduce reliance on foreign OEMs.

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