Friday, November 6, 2015

Boeing Helping Indian Manufacturing to Fly

Neelam Mathews
Nov 5 2015

Dubai Air Show (AIN)

In 2013, Boeing placed its first CH-47 Chinook helicopter contract in India with Bangalore-based Dynamatic for aft-pylon and cargo ramp assemblies.
India’s aerospace design and manufacturing industry is finally coming home to roost. Boeing (Stand 900) chairman James McNerney echoed confidence in the industry and the new government during a global summit, “India’s Time to Fly,” held in Delhi last month [October] when he announced that Boeing was “much closer to having final assembly [of] Apache or Chinook helicopters here.”
McNerney added: “That will play out, and that is our strategy. Companies like Boeing are always on the lookout for competitive advantages that come with innovative new technologies and long-term partnerships.” He said India, with its broad, deep engineering capability and skilled workforce, was a natural partner “that offers us the long-term opportunities…”
The statement came on the heels of India finalizing an order with Boeing in September for production, training, and support of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. It is the 14th nation to select the Apache and the 19th to select the Chinook.
“All capabilities are here in programs I want to make sure get done, even assembling entire airplanes–wings fuselages, systems, avionics and software that is in some ways are more sophisticated than structures. We are committed to taking Indian capability to that level–I see an opportunity to help India to move up by bringing technology,” McNerney said.
He cautioned, however, the two governments had to agree to “what technology they will share or not. Generally speaking, the more cutting edge the technology, the less sharing there will be.”
The process may have begun earlier this year, when Boeing’s Tier 1 partner, Bangalore-based Dynamatic Technologies, produced the first set of aft pylon and cargo ramp assemblies for the CH-47F.
McNerney said it was likely India would release a fighter campaign over the next couple of years. “Our approach will be to take a current state-of-art fighter and bid. Boeing will propose making the plane here [implying the F-18].” He added the modern production system and techniques would add value to India “as the capability can go into many industries in India.”
While issues relating to intellectual property, dispute resolution, bureaucracy and punitive taxes need resolution, McNerney was optimistic: “We are being listened to and working on these core regulatory issues…We thought they’d never be resolved, but with a pragmatic prime minister, we are now engaged in discussion…things are changing and that is an encouraging feeling.”
Skills that are at the heart of aerospace manufacturing are already being addressed, said Udayant Malhoutra, CEO and managing director of Dynamatic Technologies. “In this business, you’re only as good as how skilled you are.” Malhoutra said aerospace manufacturing skills included “high precision engineering, artisan craftsmanship such as how you apply sealants, and digital skills,” all of which the company seems to have mastered. “Our expansion is predicated on the quality of people and how they can move up,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Center for Aerospace Innovation & Research has been set up by Boeing in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and the government. “We must go to a level deeper, not just use the umbilical capability of the country…[we’re] teaching our partners the link between design and manufacturing,” said McNerney.

Interestingly, GE is also in the process of detailing its plans for India. An order for 100 GE F414 engines (also used on the F-18) has been placed for the delayed Light Combat Aircraft Mk2. The same engine will be used on the under-development Advance Medium Combat Aircraft, which will possibly provide a business case for a facility, thus giving Boeing a distinct advantage.

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