Air India finalise 250 aircraft with Airbus; deal expected to be announced next week


10 Feb 2023

Air India has finalised an order for around 250 aircraft with Airbus and the deal is expected to be announced next week, a source said on Thursday. The source in the know also said the airline has signed a deal with Boeing for about 200 planes. Specific details could not be immediately ascertained and there was no immediate comments from Air India about the deals. The Tata group-owned Air India is expanding its operations as well as fleet. On January 27, Air India chief Campbell Wilson said the airline is finalising a historic order of new aircraft. Air India, earlier under the ownership of the government, had acquired new aircraft more than 16 years ago. It has not purchased a single aircraft since 2005 and the last order was for 111 aircraft -- 68 with Boeing Co and remaining 43 with Airbus -- and that deal was worth USD 10.8 billion. The source told PTI that the deal with Airbus for around 250 planes has been finalised and the announcement is likely next week. The deal is likely to include 40 wide-body Airbus A350s and Air India will be the first Indian carrier to operate the aircraft. In the past, Air India had operated wide-body A330s. On Wednesday, aviation consultancy CAPA said Indian carriers are likely to place orders for up to 1,700 planes by 2024 and Air India may make the first move with some 500 planes order. Currently, Indian carriers operate less than 50 wide-body aircraft, an insignificant number for such a significant market. In contrast, Emirates alone has a fleet of over 260 wide-bodies, CAPA had said. Recently, IndiGo started wide-body operations on India-Turkey route with a wet-leased B777 and plans to induct two more such planes.

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Vistara announces flights from Mumbai to Mauritius on its newly acquired A321 LR


09 Feb 2023

Vistara announced the launch of its flight services to Mauritius from Mumbai, starting March 26. Mauritius is the 12th international destination that Vistara is connecting with Mumbai.

The five times weekly flight services will be catered with a long-range A321 aircraft, which the airline inducted in its fleet recently, in a three-class configuration (business, premium economy and economy), Vistara said.

The aircraft is also the first A321LR in India. The A321LR has an increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 97 tonnes and a third auxiliary center fuel tank helping it cover a longer range. The great circle distance between Mumbai and Mauritius is 4675 kms.

The airline has already announced commencing flight services to Colombo and Dammam from Mumbai next month.

"Vistara announces the addition of Mauritius to its constantly expanding global network. Besides being a popular tourist destination, Mauritius is an important business hub and home to many global financial institutions. This new route will further aid the growing traffic between the two countries."

Vinod Kannan, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara

The Tata-Singapore Airlines-run Vistara is in the process of merging with Air India, which was acquired by the Tata Group in January last year.

Feature Image - Tobias Gudat

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Indian carriers to place orders for upto 1700 aircraft in the next 2 years


09 Feb 2023

Indian carriers are likely to place orders for 1,500 to 1,700 planes in the next one to two years and Air India is expected to make the first move with a potential order for 500 aircraft, aviation consultancy CAPA said on Wednesday, February.

The total commercial Indian fleet of around 700 aircraft is smaller than some of the world's largest individual airlines, CAPA said, adding that given the immense potential that exists, it stands to reason that there is a need to induct more aircraft. In a report, CAPA said the Indian market in the post-COVID era is attracting global attention as arguably the most promising aviation market.

Almost every carrier in India is expected to order more aircraft in the next couple of years for fleet replacement as well as growth, given that the order book for most incumbent carriers could be considered conservative relative to the growth potential of the market over the next decade and beyond, it said. In India, air traffic recovery has been amongst the strongest in the world.

"Based on CAPA India's proprietary traffic forecasts for the next decade and beyond, combined with our assessment of aircraft retirement cycles, we expect that Indian carriers will place orders for around 1,500-1,700 aircraft over the next 12-24+ months," it said.

While noting that the development of airport infrastructure is continuing and economic regulation is maturing, CAPA said India has long shown promise but has struggled to realise its potential. India may finally be set to take its place as the global aviation market of the 21st century, the report said.

CAPA noted that Air India is expected to make the first move, with reports that it will shortly place a historic order for close to 500 aircraft, marking a genuine turning point in Indian aviation. Air India has been widely reported to be about to place an order for close to 500 aircraft, split between Airbus and Boeing. It could end up being the largest order in global aviation history, in terms of both the number and value of aircraft which are expected to include a mix from the A320 neo and 737 MAX families, as well as wide-body equipment, CAPA said.

Further, the report said that Indian carriers currently have just under 800 aircraft on the order of which IndiGo accounts for 500, which would increase to close to 1,300 if the Air India order materialises as expected.

IndiGo had been planning to place a significant order of around 300 aircraft before COVID, which was deferred due to the pandemic. This is now likely to proceed, and could be even larger than previously envisaged, increasing to around 500 aircraft now, it said.

Indian carriers are thereafter expected to place orders for a further 1,000-1,200 aircraft, starting with another large order from IndiGo, CAPA said, adding that what was envisaged to be 300 aircraft orders before COVID, may now increase to 500.

Given global supply chain constraints sparked by Covid and aggravated by Russia’s war on Ukraine, Airbus and Boeing had 12,669 unfulfilled orders as on December 31, 2022. “Delivery slots are very hard to come by for at least the next couple of years, while for narrow bodies the situation is tight until 2029,” the report says. Therefore to secure timely delivery slots, other India carriers like Akasa and GoAir will need to place orders “with a sense of urgency”.

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Boeing to exhibit Apache AH-64 attack helicopter stimulators at Aero India; showcase initiatives to boost 'Make-in-India'


09 Feb 2023

American aerospace giant Boeing, a major player in the Indian defence and commercial aviation sector will be exhibiting the simulator of their Apache AH-64 attack helicopters, at the Aero India aviation exhibition in Bengaluru. During the exhibition that goes on from February 13-17, the firm will also be exhibiting scale models of their offering such as, P8I Maritime surveillance and Anti-submarine warfare aircraft, CH-47 Chinook tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter, 737, 787 Dreamliner and the 777X. 

Boeing's carrier-based fighter aircraft the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the French Dassault Rafale-M are close contenders for the Indian Navy's fighter jet requirements. It is expected that Boeing will showcase the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft at the event. 

According to Boeing, the company will be focusing their presence at Aero India 2023 on investments in growing local services and capabilities, workforce development and partnerships in support of India’s 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'(self-reliant) vision. A key strategic goal for Boeing in India is to strengthen and leverage local talent and its growing network of more than 300 supplier partners, said the firm. 

"The Indian aerospace and defence industry is poised for growth and offers significant opportunities for Boeing with our proven portfolio of products and services," said Salil Gupte, president, of Boeing India. 

"Boeing is committed to supporting and enabling this progress with a vision to bring the best of Boeing to India and take the best of India to the world," he added. 

The joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) recently delivered the first fuselage for six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters ordered by the Indian Army from its facility in Hyderabad. TBAL has produced and supplied Boeing’s Apache final assembly plant in Mesa, Arizona with over 190 fuselages. 

Boeing said it is expanding its support for local customers in India by establishing an ecosystem of comprehensive support packages and indigenous maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities with partners through the Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment (BIRDS) program.

At present, India's armed forces operate 11 C-17 Globemaster III strategic transporters, 22 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters (with six more on order), 15 CH-47 Chinook helicopters, and 12 P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft. In addition to this, the Government owns and operates three VVIP aircraft, and two Head of State aircraft. More than 150 Boeing airplanes, including the Next-Generation 737, 737 MAX, 757, 777, and 787 Dreamliner, are operated by India’s leading commercial airlines. Boeing's annual sourcing from India stands at over $1 billion and the firm employs over 5,000 people in India, and more than 13,000 people work with its supply chain partners. 

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Airbus to recruit engineering and IT talent at Aero India in Bengaluru


08 Feb 2023

European aerospace giant Airbus will host a public meet-and-greet event aimed at recruiting engineering and IT talent at 'Aero India', which is slated to be held in Bengaluru this month, officials said.

The talent scouting event is part of the company's industrial ramp-up in this year, during which it intends to recruit more than 13,000 people globally, they said.

"The new hires will be instrumental in supporting Airbus' industrial ramp-up, its ambitious decarbonisation roadmap and preparations for the future of aviation," the global aerospace firm said in a statement.

The 14th edition of 'Aero India', known as Asia's largest aerospace exhibition, will be held from February 13 to 17.

Aspiring candidates can meet Airbus executives at stand number CR7.1 in Hall C, where they can explore career opportunities in airframe design, avionics, aircraft systems simulation, data analytics, cybersecurity and cabin engineering, the statement said.

Candidates will also get a chance to interact with senior Airbus officials to find out more about the company’s already extensive and growing footprint in India and South Asia, it said.

"Airbus is a top destination for the very best of India's engineering and information management talent with a passion for aerospace," Suraj Chettri, HR Director, Airbus India and South Asia, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Visitors to the Airbus stall will also get an opportunity to see its extensive range of products, cutting-edge technologies, services and innovations from its commercial, helicopters and defence and space portfolios.

The stand will display scale models of the new-generation tanker A330 MRTT as well as the C295 military aircraft that the company will build under its 'Make in India' programme with its industrial partner, the Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, in Gujarat.

"Visitors to the stand can also see digital displays of the earth observation satellite, the Pléiades Neo, OneAtlas, that provides premium satellite imagery, and Sirtap, a tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS)," the statement said.

Scale models of the VSR700 from the UAS category, H225M from the military category, and the H160 from the civil helicopter range will also be on the show along with the commercial aircraft model of the A350, it said.

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PM Narendra Modi inaugurates the HAL helicopter factory in Karnataka


08 Feb 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, February 6 inaugurated the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's helicopter factory -- the country's largest chopper manufacturing facility -- in the Tumakuru district of Karnataka.

Bengaluru-headquartered HAL plans to produce more than 1,000 helicopters in the range of 3-15 tonnes with a total business of more than INR 4 lakh crore over 20 years at this facility in Gubbi taluk, officials said.

The factory, spread across 615 acres for which the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone in 2016, would initially manufacture Light Utility Helicopters (LUH). It will enable India to meet its entire requirement of helicopters without import and give a much-needed fillip to the Prime Minister's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' in helicopter design, development, and manufacture, they said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and senior officials of the Ministry of Defence were among those present on the occasion. "It is a dedicated new greenfield helicopter factory which will enhance India's capacity and ecosystem to build helicopters," Singh said. Assembly polls in Karnataka are due by May.

PM Modi unveiled the LUH, which has been flight tested. The LUH is an indigenously designed and developed three-tonne class, single-engine multipurpose utility helicopter. Initially, the factory will produce around 30 helicopters per year which can be enhanced to 60 and then 90 every year in a phased manner, according to the Defence Ministry.

The factory will be augmented to produce other helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) and Indian Multirole Helicopters (IMRHs). It will also be used for maintenance, repair and overhaul of LCH, LUH, Civil Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and IMRH in the future.

Potential exports of civil LUH will also be catered to from this factory, which is being equipped with state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 standard tools and techniques for its operations, officials said. The proximity of the factory, with the existing HAL facilities in Bengaluru, will boost the aerospace manufacturing ecosystem in the region and support skill and infrastructure development such as schools, colleges and residential areas.

The factory is fully operational after the establishment of facilities like heli-runway, flight hangar, final assembly hangar, structure assembly hangar, air traffic control and various supporting service facilities, officials said.