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Aiming for the sky: Manufacturing units can come up at industrial cities, says Minister Suresh Prabhu. Focus is on self-reliance, jobs, says Prabhu; Sinha-led task force set up for drones

The Indian government is preparing a road map for the manufacture of commercial aircraft and drones in the country in order to stem the drain of foreign exchange, to become self-reliant and to create high-value jobs, said Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation at a briefing here.

“Indian carriers have placed orders for over 1,000 commercial aircraft worth ₹10 lakh crore with foreign companies,” the minister said on the occasion of a ground breaking ceremony of a smart industrial city close to Aurangabad. “We see huge potential in manufacture of aircraft in the country to meet the demand. We are preparing a road map,” he said.

“Our objective is to manufacture aircraft and drones in India. A task force had been set up under Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha for preparing a report and road map for manufacture of drones. The market for drones is estimated at $1 trillion and we must be [present] in this segment,” Mr. Prabhu said.

The government, under the ‘Make in India’ programme, aims to capitalise on the ‘enormous potential of these two sectors’.

‘If Brazil can...’

Even though 1,000 planes have been ordered by Indian airlines, more than 6,000 aircraft would be required in India by 2050, as per estimates by aviation consulting firms. “If Brazil can develop viable aircraft manufacturing programmes, India also can. India must try for it and it is desirable,” said Kapil Kaul, director and CEO, South Asia, Centre of Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

The focus must be to develop an ecosystem for capable and viable technology that can be relevant for the next 3-4 decades, he said. “There is demand in the aviation sector and India must aspire [to] manufacture aircraft. It is a valid aspiration,” Mr. Kaul said.

Mr. Prabhu added the aircraft and drone manufacturing units could come up at the industrial cities including at the Aurangabad Industrial City (AURIC), which is coming up on the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

“Drone manufacturing can create 1,50,000 jobs and we are very serious about this sector,” Mr. Prabhu said.

The 13-member task force under Mr. Sinha for drones set up last week, would develop a road map with recommendations for central as well as State governments, industry and research institutions. The road map would include outcomes, timelines, implementation and review mechanisms and metrics for the implementation of drone technology.

It would also focus on R&D, acquisition and commercialisation, application and adoption in specific sectors and a regulatory framework.