At the “Invest Karnataka 2016” event held in Bengaluru in early February this year with a view to promote the South Indian state of Karnataka, known for its IT industries and aerospace enterprises, as the investment destination par excellence, Reliance ADAG announced its plan for the setting up of Dhirubhai Ambani Centre for Innovation and Research in Aerospace at Whitefield on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
There is no denying the point that through a proper policy framework and a slew of incentives, the Indian aerospace sector can be transformed into India’s sunrise industry on the lines of the IT and software industry.
Revealing this, Anil D Ambani, the founder Chairman of Reliance ADAG noted that this innovative facility will boost the development of futuristic aerospace technologies in India. “While we are talking about fifth generation fighter aircraft, sixth generation technologies are already finding applications,” observed Ambani. This state of the art centre for excellence, to be set up under the aegis of Reliance Defence, is expected to generate more than 1,500 highly skilled jobs. In addition, it will provide a renewed thrust to the quest of expanding the scope of the Indian self- reliance in the production of state of the art defence equipment. This aerospace centre of excellence has been claimed to be the first of its kind private sector initiative in India. It has been billed as a world class facility for research, development and innovation in the aerospace sector. However, as of now, there is no clarity on the possible foreign assistance for the setting up of this centre.
Karnataka, which has traditionally been a nerve centre of Indian aerospace activities by virtue of being the location for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd(HAL), National Aerospace Laboratories(NAL) and Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) as well a string of research and development facilities of the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO),is also a home to a number of forward looking, resurgent private sector aerospace entities that are all set to make it big in the multi- billion dollar global aerospace market.
Against this backdrop and in a development of significance to the Indian aerospace sector, Fokker Technologies, a constituent of GKN Aerospace and Aequs, which has under its wing a well equipped aerospace SEZ (Special Economic Zone) at Belagavi in Karnataka have entered into a long term agreement for the supply of high precision, machined components for the Chinook helicopter development programme of the global defence and aeronautical major, Boeing. As part of this agreement, Aequs will supply machined parts while Fokker will take up the responsibility of building them into final sub-assemblies at its facility in Netherlands.
Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar said that Boeing is “rapidly expanding the supplier footprint in the country to reinforce its commitment to Make in India.”
Commenting on this landmark agreement, Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar said that Boeing is “rapidly expanding the supplier footprint in the country to reinforce its commitment to Make in India.” He revealed that Boeing has doubled the sourcing from India over the last one year. According to Edwin Boom, Business Director of Fokker Aero-structures for Boeing Defence Programs, this deal creates further value by the affordable cost structure and provides “flexibility and capacity necessary to further strengthen Boeing’s position in the market.”
Significantly, in September last, Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar inaugurated India’s largest ever aerospace machining facility at Aequs SEZ at Hattargi village on the outskirts of Belagavi in Karnataka. This sophisticated and dedicated facility is meant to meet the needs of the European aerospace major, Airbus Industries. This facility entailing an investment of US$50-million over the next five years, is being custom built to accommodate as many as 150 advanced CNC (Computerised Numerical Control) machines. As pointed out by Aravind Melligeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Aequs SEZ, this aerospace machining facility has the potential to generate revenue of US $ 75-millionannually and also provide employment to over 1,000 skilled professionals. ”Airbus has been a key customer for Aequs and I am confident that this new facility will further benefit Airbus’s global supply chain,” said Melligeri.
Incidentally, Aequs Aerospace SEZ, which has already made a mark of being the first Indian private sector enterprise to position itself as a Tier-1 supplier to Airbus Industries, has supplied components and subsystems for many of the Airbus aircraft programmes. Earlier, the state owned Indian aeronautical major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had held the distinction of being the direct, Tier 1 supplier to the global aerospace majors. As noted by Olivier Cauquil, Senior Vice President (Materials and Parts Procurement) of Airbus Industries, “We are proud to claim that today every Airbus aircraft is partly made in India and we fully support the Make in India campaign. This state of the art aerospace manufacturing facility dedicated to Airbus represents a significant milestone in our journey with Aequs and in growing our Indian industrial cooperation footprint for the long term”.
…Parrikar made the point that with the kind of facilities that the Indian private sector enterprise is capable of putting in place, India can definitely realize its long standing objective of self- reliance in defence and aerospace sectors.
Industry experts are of view that the aerospace machining facility being set up at Aequs SEZ represents the growing prowess of the Indian private sector enterprise in the critical area of precision aerospace manufacturing. On another front, this state of the art aerospace machining facility, will augment the integrated aerospace manufacturing capability built up over the years by Aequs Aerospace SEZ that already houses several inter-related capabilities that are either unavailable in India or difficult to come by in one location. Not surprisingly then, Parrikar made the point that with the kind of facilities that the Indian private sector enterprise is capable of putting in place, India can definitely realize its long standing objective of self- reliance in defence and aerospace sectors.
The ultimate objective of Aequs, which currently focusses on precision machining, sheet metal fabrication, assembly, forging, and special treatment and processing for the aerospace companies including OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) is to realize an integrated and holistic aerospace eco system where the customers can source all their requirements from one point and in the process save time, money and logistics involved in outsourcing from multiple locations. Aequs is laying increasing thrust on aero-structures and aero systems with a capacity of over 350,000 hours/year. Through Aero Structures India Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture between Aequs and Saab AB of Sweden, build to print assemblies for commercial and defence aircraft are realized. This facility delivered its first batch of aircraft structural assemblies to Saab in 2014 for use in Airbus A-380 aircraft. Further into the future, Aequs is planning to set up facilities for casting and manufacture of aero engine components.
Interestingly, long before the Make in India concept started making waves in the country, Aequs Aerospace SEZ, had given a practical shape to the Make in India mantra to build capabilities that are not available within the country.Set up as Quest Global SEZ in 2009,Aequs Aerospace SEZ has, right since its inception based its growth philosophy on the ”Make in India” initiative. Aequs Aerospace also set a new milestone in precision aerospace forging by commissioning a 10,000-tonne capacity hydraulic forging press in 2014. This closed die, hydraulically operated hot forging press set up by Squad Forging India, a tripartite joint venture between Set forge, Aequs and Aubert and Duval, happens to be the largest of its kind in the country. This innovative facility is being pressed into service to forge larger aircraft parts including landing gear and various actuation parts besides structural parts weighing upto 400-kg.While developing the Kaveri power plant meant to propel India’s home grown, fourth generation fighter aircraft Tejas, Bengaluru based Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE)had to look beyond the borders of India for the kind of metallic forgings that Aequs is now capable of delivering.
India can very well become an aerospace power house by encouraging private-public sector partnership along with joint ventures…
Similarly, Aerospace Processing India (API), a joint venture between Aequs and Magellan Aerospace , operating out of Aequs SEZ, has achieved the distinction of being the first Indian outfit to set up Tartaric Sulphuric Acid Anodizing (TSA) line approved by Airbus.The customer profile of Aequs reads like who’s who of the global aerospace giants and includes Boeing, Airbus, GKN Aerospace,Rolls Royce, Pratt&Whitney, Moog, UTAS and Eaten.
The strides made by Aequs has raised the hopes of giving a required level of momentum to the Indian aerospace sector by harnessing the potentials of Make in India strategy. In this context, Parrikar has stressed that defence including aerospace is one of the sectors being focussed on Make in India. There is no denying the point that through a proper policy framework and a slew of incentives, the Indian aerospace sector can be transformed into India’s sunrise industry on the lines of the IT and software industry. India can very well become an aerospace power house by encouraging private-public sector partnership along with joint ventures with global aerospace majors in a big way.