Most people are aware of the strength of the aerospace industry in America and Europe, but here, Umesh Gopalakrishna, who manages the aerospace segment at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions in India, tells us about this emerging market in India.
The Indian government was behind the initial growth of the aerospace industry in India, and through a program of investment and policies, aimed to make the country more self-reliant from an aerospace supply point of view. This support was the impetus to India’s aerospace market becoming one of the fastest-growing in the world.
Huge Passenger Growth
An Oxford Economics report commissioned by IATA indicates that aviation accounts for 1.5 percent of India’s GDP and supports 1.7 million jobs. Even though the industry is already so significant, an air travel penetration of only 0.04 air trips per capita per annum compared to the U.S. at more than 2 air trips per capita clearly shows the undeveloped potential. This is especially obvious when you consider that the population of India is currently 1.27 billion compared to 319 million in the U.S.
According to the Association of Private Airport Operators, Indian airport’s international and domestic passenger traffic dipped a little in 2012/13 to 159.3 million from a high point in 2011/12 of 162.28 million – triple the traffic just 10 years before. Airbus estimates that over the next 20 years, Indian air traffic growth will be the highest in the world, at 9.8 percent, even higher than China at 7.2 percent. The Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Ajit Singh, speaking at a function on Aviation Day earlier this year, said that the country’s airports would be handling 336 million domestic and 85 million international passengers with projected investment to the tune of 120 billion USD by 2020.
Boom in Aircraft Demand
During the last two decades, from a fleet of only about 100, airline companies now operate around 400 aircraft connecting India to the world. A recent report by FICCI-PWC stated that India could rank among the top three aviation markets globally by 2020, while in September last year, Boeing hiked its forecast for India‘s aircraft market by more than 11 percent, saying the country will require 1,450 new planes, worth a total of 175 billion USD, over the next two decades. Serving India’s growing commercial market is a mix of Indian-born enterprises, both government-backed and private, global implants, partnerships and joint ventures.
Historically, India has a long involvement in the aerospace industry. Hindustan Aircraft Limited, India’s first aircraft company, was established in 1940. Now known as Hindustan Aeronautics India Ltd. (HAL) it has become a major player in the global aviation arena having built up comprehensive skills in design, manufacture and overhaul of aircraft, engines, avionics and system equipment. Its product track record consists of 12 types of aircraft from in-house R&D and 14 types by licensed production, inclusive of eight types of aero engines and over 1,000 items of aircraft system equipment (avionics, mechanical, electrical).
HAL is the only totally home-grown Indian company with complete aircraft manufacturing capabilities, though Taneja Aerospace is ramping up to compete in the segment. There is also a trend for automotive companies to undertake aircraft component manufacturing, such as Tata, Mahindra, MRF, Lumax and Minda. In addition to home-grown enterprises, many major global aerospace players have a presence in India, often in Bangalore. There are numerous global ventures between Indian companies and international ones; Boeing, EADS and Lockheed, for instance, have setup partnerships with Indian companies to provide aero-structures, avionics, software, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and other equipment services.
MRO an Important Sector
The MRO sector is an important potential growth sector that is expected to grow in-line with the aerospace industry overall. According to MRO India, MRO in India was worth 800 million USD in 2012 and is estimated to grow to over 1.5 billion by 2020.
In MRO, and for the aerospace industry in general, India’s large talent pool of English-speaking engineering graduates is a significant advantage: approximately 500,000 engineers graduate each year. Undoubtedly, India’s position will move from primarily made-to-order production to being more involved in component and plane development and design, and these engineers will be at the root of that shift. In addition, India’s R&D capabilities are recognized by large aerospace majors that are forming partnerships with academia/industry and establishing captive R&D centers.
Building on a Leading Global Position
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions is the world’s number one supplier of seals to the aerospace industry. This pedigree has been key to the Indian operation quickly establishing itself as an important seal supplier in the country. Global companies who already know us benefit from sourcing the same product with the same quality regimes in India as elsewhere in the world. Home-grown customers in this specialist market benefit from our expertise and experience of over 60 years working with the industry internationally.
Based in Bangalore, which is rapidly becoming the center of the aerospace industry in India, the Trelleborg Sealing Solutions marketing company in India, alongside the manufacturing facility, have already successfully supplied seals for various niche applications like rotary seals for main gear boxes, reciprocating seals for primary and secondary flight controls as well as undercarriage product applications using specialty aerospace seals such as, Plus Seal-II, Turcon® T-seal, Turcon® Wedgpak® and VL-Seal in particular.
In general, we find that seals from Trelleborg Sealing Solutions have better performance against the customer benchmark values, especially in primary and secondary flight control applications. Isolast® J8325 perfluoroelastomer is best-in-class for high temperature engine and gear box applications where it outperforms flight hour limits compared to competitive seals.
Local Presence, Global Reach
Trelleborg’s global network has been a key factor in the globalization of aerospace sealing knowledge to serve its customers locally in India.
The Trelleborg Sealing Solutions European Hub Aerospace (EHA) has played a vital role in supporting aerospace business development in India by working with the teams in application development, product supply, meeting aerospace-specific quality requirements, testing and logistics. Visits from EHA experts have helped the Indian marketing company gain business in new areas and also equipped the Indian team with specialist technical knowledge.
We are very excited that Trelleborg Sealing Solutions is involved in the aerospace industry, especially as the predicted growth is so high. We are ready and waiting with proven solutions to accelerate our customers’ product development whenever possible, while supplying components to the most exacting quality regimes and standards.
In Outer Space
Not just content with aircraft, India has invested heavily in outer space. India is one of only six countries in the world that undertakes space launches. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) implements the Indian Space program involving the development and operation of satellites, launch vehicles and ground systems for carrying out research and applications related to communications, remote sensing, meteorology and space sciences.
To put the satellites into orbit, India has developed two work horse launch vehicles; the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). There is also a world class facility at India’s space port in Sriharikota near Chennai, with launch pads and a host of test facilities for satellites and launch vehicle systems.
Set for Accelerated Growth
The state government has recently approved the 1.8 billion USD investment proposal of Sun Forest City. This is a three-phase mega project aiming to set up a complete eco-system for aerospace industries near the Bangalore International Airport. To be built on nearly 1,000 acres – around 14 km from the airport and 44 km from the city – cluster project ‘Vayu’ will house domestic and overseas aerospace firms in an integrated space with world-class infrastructure facilities. The aerospace hub will complement the aerospace special economic zone (SEZ) being set up near the airport for the private sector.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense