Washington: There is huge interest among US industry majors in India’s civil aviation industry, and India hopes this will translate into investment in various areas – from aircraft manufacturing and their components to the airport infrastructure; from urban air mobility to air navigation systems, said the union‘s civil aviation minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia.
India’s civil aviation industry has also rebounded from the Covid-19 pandemic-induced crisis, slowly but surely, with strong latent demand emerging, the minister told HT.
He was in New York to meet with a range of industry stakeholders last week. He met with representatives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Pratt and Whitney, Blade Air Mobility and visited the Air Route Traffic Center on Long Island. The minister also participated in two roundtables, one with member companies of the American-Indian Business Council and the other with the diaspora.
Scindia’s visit comes shortly after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman concluded a visit to the United States during which she took part in spring meetings with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington. , and spoke to a range of investors and industry stakeholders, particularly in California.
On April 11, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar were in Washington for the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.
Scindia’s conversations in the United States focused on civil aviation space.
“The first thing is that there is a lot of interest in the United States in India and the way our industry has developed over the past few years. There has been interest shown in the maintenance sector , repair and overhaul (MRO), in terms of urban air mobility with electric vertical take-off and landing (E-VTOL) and urban air vehicles, as well as a growing interest in acquiring fleets in India, which will unfold over the next two years,” Scindia said in an interview.
The minister added that the successful launch of the GPS-Assisted GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) trial in India had also generated “a lot of traction” with companies.
“Throughout the entire civil aviation ecosystem, there’s tremendous interest,” he said.
Asked if he sees this as part of the government’s broader approach to a ‘self-reliant’ India and making sure investors win in India, Scindia replied: “Absolutely. And so the establishment of MRO, the establishment of urban mobility aircraft, whether it be drones or E-VTOLs, even the manufacture of aircraft ranging from helicopters to aircraft components, there is a lot of interest and I hope that will translate into investments.
India announced an ambitious drone policy last year. Suggesting that it was important to look at drones from the broader perspective of air mobility vehicles, the minister said he expected a significant investment in India in this space and stressed that the government has already published a list of the top 14 sellers under the PLI (Production-linked incentive) scheme.
“I’ve spent time with the Blade and Beta systems coming out with the first E-VTOLs in the US and although FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) approvals are expected for this, the seeds are being sown across the globe and India has to be one of the early adopters of this technology from a production perspective as well.
The Minister was also optimistic about the recovery of the aviation industry, given that it was among the most affected by mobility restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We reached 407,000 passengers ten days ago. Our daily numbers are between 300,000 and 380,000. There is sustained demand from tourism as well as the business sector, and a lot of latent demand is also being felt. And I see us climbing that chart, slowly but surely.