In response to a questionnaire from The Sunday Guardian, Boeing Commercial Airplanes gave the following replies. Excerpts:

Q: What is Boeing’s footprint in India?

A: Boeing has been a part of India for more than 75 years. Our partnership with India has grown over the decades and now includes growing a supply chain in manufacturing, aerospace infrastructure, engineering services and skills. We are also partnering with India to deliver on common goals of growth and supporting the Prime Minister’s “Make in India,” “Skill India,” and “Startup India” visions.

To date, Boeing employs over 1,200 people directly in India. For decades, Boeing has been working with suppliers in India in manufacturing, IT and engineering servicesvvv and employs over 7,000 people on dedicated supply-chain jobs. Some examples include:

Boeing works with over 160 suppliers to provide parts and assemblies covering aerostructures, wire harness, composites, forgings, avionics mission systems, and ground support equipment.

Our supplier network in India is delivering on complex work packages for commercial and defence aircraft such as the 777, 787, P-8, F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-15, and CH-47 Chinook.

Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) facility in Hyderabad became operational in 2017 and will be the sole producer of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter fuselages globally.

In 2014, Boeing set up a production line at Dynamatic Technologies to produce ramp and pylon-aerostructures for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

Boeing opened a C-17 Training Center in July 2016 to provide C-17 training services to the Indian Air Force. The Center has completed more than 1,700 hours of training and maintained a serviceability state of 100%.

Another example is the Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center (BIETC) in Bengaluru that leverages a talented pool of employees to support Boeing’s engineering growth in strong global markets. BIETC engineers undertake high-quality, advanced aerospace technology-driven work that supports areas as diverse as test and evaluation; development of advanced, environmentally friendly coatings; data analytics for next-generation airplane health management; innovation in labs on Internet of Things and Digital Transformation; and development of software tools that enable airlines to improve their operations and work with airports to help with de-congestion and navigation, at reduced costs. 

Q: How can Boeing add value to India’s young generations and satisfy their desire to travel?

A: As the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing cares deeply about inspiring the next generation of engineering talent. We have been investing and partnering within India to develop the country’s youth and work force for many years, long before “Skill India” became an initiative.

We launched a national aeromodeling competition for engineering students across India in 2013. This annual competition is now held in four regions of the country with a grand finale culminating in Delhi. During the events, Boeing provides training to students and helps them design, build and fly their model airplanes, and in the process, encouraging them to consider aerospace careers. More than 800 participants from 300 colleges across India participated in the competition in 2017.

Below are a few additional examples of our current efforts to address the critical need for skills development in the Indian aerospace sector:

Boeing is partnering with the National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) and the Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF) to provide vocational training to Indian students.

Boeing-funded curriculums and initiatives have already been launched along with relevant aerospace partners like Rossell Techsys and Tata Advanced Materials Limited (TAML). This fills the gap in “industry training” and helps in increasing the employability of prospective candidates. Several frontline workers have already been employed with Boeing suppliers after completing their training. This is helping fill the gap in “industry training” and in increasing the employability skills of prospective candidates. 

Boeing, in partnership with Air India Engineering Services Limited and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has also announced the launch of an Accelerated Apprenticeship Program for aircraft maintenance engineers (AME). The key objectives of the programme are to improve the employability of AMEs through training and hands-on experience with actual aircraft.

With regard to Boeing enabling India’s youth’s desire to travel, it has been through, in part, by our fuel-efficient 737 NGs, and soon our 737 MAXs, that airlines have been able to offer lower fares, making airfare more affordable to everyone.

Q: What about Boeing’s contribution to socially responsible projects in India, e.g. investment in youth and R&D projects?

A: For decades, Boeing has invested in skills development, research and technology and community focused projects and initiatives in India. Here are a few of our recent community projects:

As of 2017, Boeing’s programs in India had helped improved 140,000 lives.

Boeing worked with CanSupport, an NGO, to help serve neglected, underprivileged cancer patients, encouraging them to lead a better life.

Boeing supported Sulabh International’s initiatives toward promoting public health and hygiene as part of the Clean India / Swachh Bharat mission.

In Chennai, Boeing supports the Room to Read programme in India that is focused on literacy and girls’ education initiatives.

Boeing’s research and development (R&D) presence in India was established in 1995 when collaborative research in aerodynamics began at the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in Bangalore. This has grown into a series of projects in aerodynamics and advanced analysis methods at NAL, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.

An evolved partnership, named the Aerospace Network Research Consortium (ANRC), was also set up with IISc involving other industry partners, HCL Technologies and Wipro. This consortium has conducted research and co-developed technologies related to wireless aerospace networks for over 10 years. This involved regular interaction between researchers in India and Boeing experts in the United States and has resulted in several doctorate theses and a number of research reports.

In collaboration with IIT Bombay and the Department of Science and Technology, Boeing conceptualised the National Centre for Aerospace Innovation and Research (NCAIR) in 2009 to support world-class research and manufacturing development in aerospace, with the objective of applying this capability to the aerospace industry in India.

The work at NCAIR has led to 20 patents and technology breakthroughs, and more than 30 specialists have been trained and developed by the NCAIR. The key areas of research for NCAIR include modeling and simulation, where the researchers have generated new insights on methods to improve efficiency of machining titanium and aluminum alloys. Recently, NCAIR inaugurated an Advanced Machining Excellence Cell on its campus.

Both NCAIR and ANRC have proven their worth in using technology to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in India’s aerospace industry to encourage its startup culture.

In November 2017, Boeing announced the launch of the Boeing HorizonX India Innovation Challenge 1.0, in collaboration with T-Hub, India’s fastest growing startup engine, to energise aerospace innovation in India. The Boeing HorizonX India Innovation Challenge is aimed at attracting the best Indian startups to propose disruptive solutions to tackle complex challenges in the areas of autonomous and unmanned systems, advanced manufacturing, industrial IOT and automation, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The challenge is open to startups across the country and the finalists will receive funding to participate in a three-month accelerator programme and the winners will have the opportunity to engage with Boeing on future partnerships.

Q: What is Boeing’s view on how digitalisation can speed up growth of the largest travel market in the world?

A: One of the most transformational opportunities in our company and in our industry is digitisation. We see the effects today. Digital transformation is changing how we live, how we manage our business, and how we are planning for future growth. Boeing has a strong history and foundation in digitisation and analytics. We want to build on that foundation to capture the potential ahead, both in India and globally.

Here are some specific ways we see that transformation occurring

Digitalisation and the use of data analytics can help airlines streamline their operations, resulting in more efficient and reliable service for passengers and better cost management. This will be good for the flying public and our industry.

Data analytics can help airlines better match airplane types, seating plans, service offerings, and other flight related items to the growing market and future route structure.

Digital systems can streamline ticketing and airport and on-board customer operations and service.

Data analytics help airlines better target services to individuals and improve their travel experience.

Faster and more reliable communications with customers on items that will impact their travel via connected digital applications.

Q: What is Boeing doing for the after-market in India, e.g. Facility Build up, MRO Build up, harnessing local talent?

A: As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India offers growth and productivity opportunities for Boeing. For over 75 years, Boeing has been engaging with Indian industry to enhance the country’s aerospace sector. Boeing’s investments in services infrastructure, the build-up of local capability and workforce and local partnership models will accelerate our strategy. Some examples include:

Boeing has built a world-class facility in Nagpur as part of our commitment to the Government of India. Boeing handed the facility over to Air India in 2015 and they now operate it with full control.

Our operations in Chennai have continued to expand, creating hundreds of new engineering design, technical authoring and software development career positions since its establishment in 2010.

BIETC is also harnessing local talent and giving them opportunities to do cutting edge engineering and technology work in aerospace.

Q: Recently, Boeing had said, “Boeing forecasts demand for 2,100 new airplanes in India; commercial aerospace demand in India continues to grow at unprecedented rates.” How does Boeing see the selling graph rise over the next 5-10 years? Will these purchase of aircraft be balanced by India’s growth in the global market in the long haul?

A: Every year, Boeing puts out its Current Market Outlook, which is a 20-year forecast. We continue to see demand for new airplanes in the Indian commercial aviation market, both to replace older, less efficient airplanes as well as for growth. Beyond economic growth, we continue to watch the fuel price, exchange rates, and airline traffic, as all three are key indicators of the overall profitability of the Indian market that can affect the industry’s growth.

As mentioned in our 2017 Current Market Outlook, the Indian economy is projected to be the third largest in the world by 2037, with air traffic growing at an average of 8% over the next 20 years, which is the highest growth rate in the world. With this growth, we project that approximately 5% of all aircraft to be delivered over the next 20 years will be for airlines in India.

Overall, we continue to remain confident in India’s commercial aviation market and with Boeing’s airplanes bringing the latest innovation to the market, with unbeatable fuel efficiencies, Indian carriers will continue to prosper.

The long-haul wide body market is currently dominated by Boeing airplanes with Air India flying the 787-8 Dreamliner, 777-300ER (extended range) and 777-200LR (Long Range), as well as Jet Airways flying the 777-300ER. As international traffic continues to increase out of India, we believe that additional 787 Dreamliners will be required by Indian carriers. 

Air India and Jet Airways are also great candidates for the new 777X, when their current 777s are ready for retirement.

With the change in the country’s aviation policies, we’ve now seen additional airlines starting the conversation about possible long-haul flights outside of India, such as Vistara and SpiceJet, with both carriers having mentioned interest in the 787 Dreamliner.

Additionally, for demand for single-aisle airplanes continues. Notably, our Next-Generation 737s have become the backbone of airlines such as Jet Airways and SpiceJet. Both Jet Airways and SpiceJet are scheduled to take delivery of their first 737 MAX 8s this summer and both of these operators have not yet ordered enough to cover the replacement of their aging fleets nor to account for growth. Air India Express is another great candidate for the new, fuel efficient 737. We continue to believe that Boeing has the right products and services for airlines in India. So, as the industry continues to expand, Boeing’s comprehensive family of airplanes will continue to provide the airlines with superior efficiency and economics, allowing them to prosper.