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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

India’s Avro Replacement Could Be Problematic


AINONLINE
The Airbus C-295 might be the only qualified contender for India’s Avro 748 replacement project. (Photo: Airbus Defence & Space)
July 22, 2014, 2:50 PM
The new Indian government has re-issued the request for proposal (RFP) for 56 transport aircraft worth an estimated $2 billion, to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging Hawker Siddeley 748M twin-turboprops, known as Avros. The final date for submission of bids is August 28. The contract is expected to be awarded in late 2015 or early 2016.
The candidates will likely include Alenia with the C-27J, Antonov with the An-32, and Airbus Defence & Space with the C-295. However, a decision on whether Alenia can bid is pending, after the controversial sale of AW101 helicopters by fellow Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland was halted. There are also concerns about Antonov, from war-torn Ukraine. Should the C-295 end up as a sole bidder, the project might be shelved unless the Indian Air Force seeks special approval from the MoD.
This is India’s first private sector-only project, in which government-owned companies cannot be a lead partner. In this case, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) can be a tier-one supplier, but it will not be the so-called Indian Production Agency (IPA). The successful bidder is to deliver 16 aircraft in flyaway condition in 24 months and manufacture 40 in an Indian partner’s facility by 60 months, with all to be delivered within 120 months of contract signature.
An electronic warfare suite to be integrated on the aircraft includes Bharat Electronic Ltd radar warning receiver and missile approach warning system and Bharat Dynamics Ltd counter measure-dispensing system. Tooling, the responsibility of the OEM, will include jigs, fixtures, assembly, comprising 60 percent of the aircraft. Engine and avionic parts will be imported.
“It will be a challenge to motivate Indian suppliers who are insisting on an order of at least 200,” a manufacturer told AIN. He added that the manufacturing facility funded by an OEMwith large pockets could open the way for an export industry. “The Avro replacement could be a prelude and follow in the footsteps of the Ruag production model for the Dornier 228 that, except the engine, is outsourced from India,” he said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AME education- Is it worth it? Time for the Govt to take a call?

Neelam Mathews
July 21, 2014

There are some things that are seriously wrong with our industry and one is surprised how they never get pointed out.
I got this story by default. Thanks to social media, I got an SOS from a young man requesting help to be introduced to some MRO companies to keep him as an intern for 6 months which he is willing to do without a salary. Such is the structure of the curricula that without the training at a maintenance facility, he doesn't get a certificate. So far so good, but, now we get into murky waters. MROs at airports are not allowed to take on trainees unless they are hired as technicians "due to security issues." So the same person can enter the airport as a technician -literally forcing companies to fool with books- but not as a trainee as that makes him a security risk! Really!
Why have such a course? Or even better, why not start to update it? We hope the new dynamic minister of education is listening.
We are also hearing that some PSUs are charging the interns for giving them the honor of the experience. This, ofcourse, leaves the have- nots with little choice but getting into debt.
So, what if the young guy who connected with me does not get the internship? He goes back to Class 12, losing 3 years in the bargain as the AME course does not offer any credit for graduation, or, he  ends up selling pakoras on a rainy day. An official cautions: "Its a bad time to enter the business. There are around 5000 students graduating from some 40 institutes a year in India, and just around 25% are absorbed as the industry is not growing."
While these students could be absorbed into the IAF following large offsets committments that include MRO, internal dynamics will need to change. Presently, the IAF takes on 18 year olds and makes them go through a 3-year training before inducting them as airmen. "The talent is available- these tech guys are already well trained. Why can't they be absorbed into the IAF,?" queries an official.
The MoD must make a call on this before we have more frustrated youth on our hands. Anybody listening?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Is it Tata Airlines or its Corporate JeT?

Neelam Mathews
June 19, 2014

JRD might be smiling benevolently from where  he is resting. A picture released on twitter shows perhaps the very first look at India's Tata (Airlines) (Tata-SIA), the new name as it appears on the aircraft in blue and white colors? As somebody remarked: "Looks like their corporate jet colors." So unless they have bought an A320 as a corporate jet, this could be the new face of the airline.

The decision on the name - if it is so- is a move away from SIAs trend to brand its subsidiaries with names like SilkAir and Scoot. But then, Tata Airlines is no subsidiary! The branding is clear- you can identify it from as far as the eye can see. And history repeats itself, except that the choice of aircraft is different from the time the Tata's ran a postal service in the last century.

Congratulations, either way! We as Indian citizens have a lot of expectations. Hopefully, they won't be misplaced.

Exclusive! Who is merging with whom in Indian aviation?

Neelam Mathews
July 19, 2014

If you thought the end of losses for airlines operating in India was history, you might want to think again. So volatile is the situation that with the possible start of giant Tata-SIA soon, even Jet-Etihad has realized it cannot be silent anymore. A press briefing called next week will have both Naresh Goyal and James Hogan addressing us mere mortals. Don’t bash me up for this, but besides the fact they are expected to inform us on how the India market figures in their strategy, we are hearing a buzz that they might even announce the acquisition of a large ailing budget airline (SpiceJet?) that is suffering from TDS and service tax payment defaults. However, AerospaceDiary could not confirm this.  Just reporting a buzz! Moreover, that is where, we suspect a blog differs from a newspaper report. Taking a bit of editorial leverage here!
Air India has joined Star Alliance and that might give it a temporary relief as it adds more codeshares to its portfolio- read- more revenue. While this may not be viewed by competitors as something that eats into their business, today, every morsel counts. Let us look at the aviation scenario that the budget chose to ignore. Barring those 200 airports, which could give the regional airlines a push- if there was a policy!), God alone knows, when both will see the light of day.
We are also hearing another airline, Air One, has got its NOC. So, another issue to add to the woes of Indian aviation. Does that reaffirm our theory of consolidation in the business? We think so.



ANS calls for clarity as new Indian government sets priorities

Neelam Mathews - IHS Jane's Airport Review
17 July 2014
ATC 
The incoming BJP government led by Narendra Modi must surmount a number of aviation obstacles
Even as the Indian Parliament prepares to clear the creation of an independent Civil Aviation Authority to replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the corporatisation of Air Navigation Services (ANS) is top on the list of the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 100-day agenda.
Other immediate plans include establishing low-cost airports.

Some aviation insiders harbour serious concerns about ANS corporatisation. Subit Kobiraj, president of the CNS [Communication, Navigation and Surveillance] Officers Guild, described "grey areas" in the implementation plan - and IHS Jane's has seen a letter dated 4 July, addressed to the AAI Member ANS from Shamsher Singh, general secretary of the ANS Guild.
....read more on Janes Airprots Review

Friday, July 18, 2014

MAS loses second 777 this year

Media Statement : MH17 Incident

Released at 12:30am/18 July 2014
Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.
The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thailand Looks To Duplicate Automobiles Success For Aerospace

FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW » 2014

Along with Thailand’s Board of Investment, Amata Corp., a developer and manager of industrial parks in Southeast Asia already established in Bangkok, Chonburi and Rayong, as well as in Vietnam, has big plans for an aerospace cluster in Thailand, which could include MRO facilities serving airlines such as Thai Airways.
Along with Thailand’s Board of Investment, Amata Corp., a developer and manager of industrial parks in Southeast Asia already established in Bangkok, Chonburi and Rayong, as well as in Vietnam, has big plans for an aerospace cluster in Thailand, which could include MRO facilities serving airlines such as Thai Airways.
July 15, 2014, 6:20 AM
In view of its success in nurturing a thriving automobile industry–the ninth largest in the world–and as Asia edges toward becoming the world’s largest growth market for aviation, Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) is considering building an aerospace industry starting with Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers servicing global OEMsupply chains.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) regional economic integration plan envisions establishment of a single market and production base by 2015. Thailand already has an $800 million aircraft parts market thanks in part to the lower cost base in that country. The U.S. Commercial Service has forecast a 5-percent annual growth rate for the sector. The country is also looking to expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul business both domestically and to take advantage of opportunities from emerging neighboring countries Myanmar and Laos. This follows a spurt of growth in the region in both air travel and aircraft fleet. BOI, for instance, approved the importation of 119 new aircraft for Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air in 2013 alone, and nine helicopters for the oil-and-gas sector.
As the country looks to elections this year backed by a stable government, with a prime minister at the helm, there is confidence that large pending projects will be cleared.
“We realize infrastructure is a must,” said Aarjin Pattanapanchai, deputy secretary general, BOI, before commenting on nearby Singapore’s position. “Singapore does not have a support industry and that is where we see our strength. For instance, we are the largest polymer producers [for composites in the region],” she said.
Plans are being formulated for development of an aerospace industrial park, she added. Existing parts industries and availability of stainless steel and aluminium, fabrication, polymer and supply of titanium will prove strong support to aerospace, she said. “We want to promote transfer of technology and we plan to soon launch our new policy which focuses on aerospace, which will get maximum incentives because it is technology-based,” said Pattanapanchai. She acknowledged that the political turmoil in Thailand over the past year had caused a backlog of progress on roughly 200 foreign investment projects worth over $12 billion. She expressed hope that the projects would start being cleared soon.
Strategic Location
Thailand has made a start as it serves not only major aerospace companies in aircraft parts production and components manufacturing, but also provides maintenance, ground-based infrastructure and supply-chain activities. Recently, the Thailand Board of Investment approved a $3.7 billion in investment projects which include an aviation training school of New York-based FlightSafety International.
“Countries investing in Thailand and the Asean Economic Community [AEC] will realize the significance of Thailand’s strategic location in the region,” said Praserd Bunchaisuk, Minister of Industry, last year. Land acquisition, a major problem in many countries, is a nonissue in Thailand as the state retains the freehold. However, it does require a license from BOI.
Rolls-Royce, which announced its decision to expand its production base for engine parts in Thailand, signed a 10-year manufacturing agreement with Leistritz, a global supplier of components for forging of compressor blades for V2500, Trent 700, Trent 900 and Trent 1000 engines. Rolls also cooperates with Kasetsart University for training and development of skilled workers. Already, the school’s Aerospace Engineering Department has produced more than 450 students.
Incentives Boost Business
Thailand’s incentives have been found to be attractive by many investors, leading to a boost in business overall. They include exemption of import duties on machinery, an eight-year corporate income tax exemption, 100-percent land ownership as long as the company continues to exist and repatriation of earnings. The incentives have encouraged companies, like Michelin, to set up in Thailand, as they look to access the ASEAN market. Frank Moreau, president of Michelin Aircraft Tires, told AIN that Thailand, which represents one of three industrial facilities in the world for the company, will see more investment in the future.
Other aviation companies with significant investments in aerospace include General Electric, Senior Aerospace, Triumph Group, Chromalloy, Ducommun, Aeroworks, Eurocopter, Driessen and Minebea.
As part of its “openness,” there is no offsets policy in the country. “We do not force any company to tie up with a local partner,” said Pattanapanchai.
Infrastructure Improvements
Looking to improve infrastructure to encourage export among others, a three-phased plan is planned to extend highways, runways and the Laem Chabang seaport, which is close to industrial parks for manufacturing companies. For instance, 60 kilometers east of Bangkok, Thailand’s largest industrial land developer–Amata Corp.–houses Amata Industrial Park, Chonburi, close to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and the seaport. It also is home to production bases for tire makers Bridgestone and Triumph Aviation Services Asia.
Chackchai Panichapat, executive director, Amata, told AIN the company is hoping to see business move in aerospace: “We see potential in Asian countries just looking at the number of flights at airports.” He added that if investors are interested, Amata could allot a 100-acre zone for a cluster of aerospace industries. While he admits Singapore is “far ahead of us in the aerospace industry,” he said, “we also have a good opportunity here. We hope to see aerospace grow as did the automotive industry here, but much faster.” In addition, he pointed out that “with the law strict against bribery, U.S. and Western countries will find it easy to do business here.”
Leveraging on its solid record of accomplishment in Thailand, Amata has established its first overseas-integrated industrial estate on 700 hectares in Bien Hoa City, Vietnam, the construction of which is to start in 2015. It is also looking at a similar park in Myanmar.
As aircraft manufacturers struggle to cut costs to make their global supply chains competitive, Senior Aerospace’s Thailand facility at Amata, which carries out machining of turbine blades for engine-maker Rolls-Royce, has won contracts from Germany’s MTU Aero Engines. Senior Aerospace has been growing; it recently acquired UK-based Weston, a manufacturer of high-precision components and subassemblies for the commercial aerospace market, which specializes in machining and assembly of aerofoils, aluminum and hard metal structural parts and premium aircraft-seat structures. Weston has content on each of the Airbus A320 family, A330, A350 and A380 platforms, both on engines and on aircraft structures.
Another company leading the march is Triumph Structures. “Location wise we chose this because it is close to port and seaport, and logistics are in place,” said Alex Beysen, the company’s president. Triumph manufactures piece parts that get integrated into composites. “We feed the assembly lines…we do subassemblies, like paneling, here…we are building machine parts, and later the hinge assemblies will be fitted into composites for the A330. It is simple now but will become complex in future. “However, Beysen is clear that “large assembly and major structures are not going to happen [here].”
Skills Shortage
Technical skills remain an issue in the country, however. “Skilled labor [and getting] engineers is a problem in the highly specialized fields of problem solving and systems,” said Beysen. “We need people who can understand specifications…We are investing in people trained at Thailand University.” With its sprawling facility built for future, Beysen is looking ahead 10 years–and is not overly concerned with the military coup. He told AIN, “It’s business as usual and a safe environment despite the coup.”
With the facility producing composites as well as machining parts for Boeing and Airbus, Triumph is looking at more autoclaves to optimize production to enable a cost advantage. The established auto industry is a definite advantage, as “getting people to shift from auto to aerospace in machining is easy, [but] composites is more difficult,” he said. While conscious about neighboring countries also looking at getting into parts manufacture, he is clear: “Singapore is way too expensive. We have no plans to open a subsidiary there.”
Other Issues
The nascent industry is not devoid of issues. “Thailand is not a cheap country. We cannot hire foreigners…staff turnover is high. Customs procedures need to be improved and there is a need to address skill levels,” said one supplier.
The Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC), setup to train personnel for aircraft maintenance, aircraft services and other aviation-related services, takes trainees from neighboring countries alongside students from Thailand. Of the 100 pilots that receive training every year, 60 are sponsored by Thai Airways. “As demand increases, we have plans to train the trainer,” said a CATC official.
Michelin, meanwhile, is working with schools that are starting to integrate learning with technical skills. “Michelin hires students in the last year of study that they spend with us. We have been successful in helping modify the curriculum,” said the official.
Moving forward, as the AEC draws closer, market access will be key, not just for Asean, but India and China–a reason, perhaps, why Thailand is in a hurry to catch the flight to growth.