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An SP Guide Publication
News Flies. We Gather Intelligence. Every Month. From India.
March • 2012
INDIA aviation 2012 VISIT US at Hall C, Booth 3
untapped assets regional aviation: AWAITING A revolution FBOs: the dire need AIR-to-surface missiles RNI NUMBER: DELENG/2008/24199
ICAUV 2012: a report
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Table of Contents
An SP Guide Publication
News Flies. We Gather Intelligence. Every Month. From India.
Issue 3 • 2012
12 14 16 18
Business Aviation Untapped Asset Regional Aviation Awaiting a Revolution FBO The Dire Need Industry Are you Ready?
Report Enhancing Relationships
Networking podium Singapore Airshow 2012 had a record number of trade and public visitors. The six-day event witnessed about 1,45,000 visitors and the largest ever number of top level delegations.
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With its theme“Big Show Big Opportunities”Singapore Airshow 2012 has become a global marketplace for world’s aviation community supported by major industry players
AN SP GUIDE PUBLICATION
News Flies. We Gather Intelligence. Every Month. From India.
MARCH • 2012
INDIA AVIATION 2012
VISIT US AT HALL C, BOOTH 3
22 Electronic Warfare Countering Missile Threats 24 UAVs The Ubiquitous 26 SP’s Exclusive Wither Indigenisation
BUSINESS AVIATION: UNTAPPED ASSETS REGIONAL AVIATION: AWAITING A REVOLUTION FBOs: THE DIRE NEED AIR-TO-SURFACE MISSILES
ICAUV 2012: A REPORT
RNI NUMBER: DELENG/2008/24199
20 Air-to-Surface Missiles Battling Neighbourhood
SP's Aviation Cover 03-12 final.indd 1
12/03/12 11:55 AM
Cover Photo: Photogenic view of F-35 display during Singapore Airshow held in February 2012 Image By: Experia Events
Industry Hopes Alive
conference Report Platform for Interaction
A Word from Editor
NewsWithViews – Mirage 2000 Crashes, Air Marshal Chopra ejects – Air India may sell its Dreamliners In Focus The Sinking Feeling
Forum Gasping for Funds
Hall of Fame Women’s Air Derby (1929)
8 9 35 36 40
NewsDigest LastWord Muse over Expatriates
Next Issue: Defexpo India 2012 Special
Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 1
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A Word from Editor
With India Aviation 2012 round the corner, this issue deals with many more areas connected with civil aviation such as business/general aviation, infrastructure and FBO requirements in India
hile the global civil aviation fraternity is converging onto India’s southern peninsula for the forthcoming India Aviation 2012 to be held from March 14-18 at Begumpet airport in Hyderabad, the airline industry in India continues to crowd the media headlines for all the wrong reasons. Heading the latest nosedive is Dr Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines which seems to be staring at a possible terminal illness, being subjected to never ending financial blows by its creditors and suppliers. But Kingfisher alone is not the only sufferer; practically all the airlines in India—big or small—are suffering from varying degrees of financial distress. The story of Air India, which has by now outlived even the notorious sobriquet of being called a ‘white elephant’, is well known to be repeated. With a staggering cumulative loss in excess of `60,000 crore ($12 billion), it would have wound up long ago but for the regular hefty sums of public money being doled out by the obliging government to keep it afloat. Jet Airways, the biggest private carrier in India, though not as badly affected as the Kingfisher is also struggling hard to contain its losses. By now it is evident that it is not only the flawed business models of the Indian carriers but also skewed government policies which have led to the present morass in the civil aviation sector. However, it is still not too late to salvage the situation, but for that, a comprehensive policy direction is needed by the government to address the prevailing crisis and lay a path for future growth. There is indeed an urgent need for the government to create an industry-friendly and financially pragmatic environment in the civil aviation sector. First and foremost, the government should get over the bogey of ‘security risks’ and allow foreign airlines to enter the Indian civil aviation market. A liberal FDI regime would pave the way for foreign airlines to participate in India’s aviation sector and strengthen it. The government should seriously consider allowing foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent at least in the cash-starved domestic air carriers. Then there is the issue of ATF prices in India which are amongst the highest in the world. The Indian Government’s recent policy decision to allow direct import of ATF from abroad by the Indian carriers though welcome falls short on promise because
of the inbuilt logistical problems of transportation, storage and refuelling. The government would do great service to the beleaguered sector by rationalising the ATF prices within the country to bring these closer to the international norms, as also, standardise these throughout the country by making the sales tax on ATF specific instead of ad valorem. With India Aviation 2012 round the corner, this issue also deals with many more areas connected with civil aviation such as business/general aviation, infrastructure and fixed-base operator (FBO) requirements in India. Essentially, India’s civil aviation potential and growth story is not only intact but gathering greater and greater momentum by the day. Hopefully, the government would pay heed to bring pragmatic policy decisions into play, to spur growth and achieve the desired results in this vital sector of the nation’s economy. And, on that hopeful note, we look forward to meeting you at the India Aviation 2012 pavillion. Do visit us at Stall 3, Hall C at Begumpet airport in Hyderabad. Wishing you happy reading and happier landings!
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 3
urocopter has unveiled its newest helicopter, the EC130 T2, which features enhanced comfort, improved operational performance and increased versatility for the company’s lightweight single-engine product line. The EC130 T2 was revealed during a ceremony at the 2012 Heli-Expo exhibition in Dallas, Texas, where Eurocopter also announced seven launch customers for the rotarywing aircraft covering a total of 105 bookings—Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Scandinavian Helicopter Group, Air Commander, Europavia and Enloe FlightCare. While retaining the EC130’s existing external lines, approximately 70 per cent of the EC130 T2’s airframe structure has been modified. The new and updated features on the helicopter include the use of a more powerful Arriel 2D turboshaft engine and upgraded main gearbox; the incorporation of an active vibration control system; improved air ventilation, distribution and demisting systems; a cabin interior structure redesign with a full flat floor; a cockpit update for enhanced man-machine interface; new energyabsorbing seats that improve weight and balance for passenger loading; integration of a crashworthy fuel tank; and 4 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Eurocopter has unveiled its new EC130 T2 with optimised performance, comfort and mission diversity
increased maintenance accessibility for electrical and air conditioning systems. The EC130 T2’s increased performance is provided by its Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine, which provides 10 per cent more average power than the EC130’s current power plant with lower specific fuel consumption. Based on the proven Arriel 2 engine family, the Arriel 2D benefits from such technology advancements as a new axial compressor and new blade materials, and also provides a higher time between overhaul (TBO) intervals. The optional features on the EC130 T2 are a new-generation air conditioning unit, tinting of the helicopter’s wraparound windshield, and a right-hand sliding passenger door. The air conditioning system includes design optimisation for improved performance, effective hot/cold temperature control, and better air distribution. Derived from the system on Eurocopter’s EC175 seven-tonne-class helicopter, it uses a simple control box with straightforward operating logic similar to climate control units on automobiles. SP E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org www.spsaviation.net
Mirage 2000 crashes, Air Marshal Chopra ejects
On Friday February 25, an IAF three-star general and a wing commander escaped unhurt when the multi-role Mirage 2000 twin-seat jet fighter they were flying crashed after an engine problem in the Bhind region of Madhya Pradesh. Posted as the Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel (AOP) at IAF HQ in New Delhi, Air Marshal Anil Chopra was on an official tour to Gwalior airbase as the ‘Commodore Commandant’ of No.1 Squadron (The Tigers). The other occupant of the ill-fated jet, Wing Commander Ram Kumar is the present Commanding Officer (CO) of the ‘Tigers’. Both were on a routine training flying mission when the mishap occurred off Gwalior.
hile the Court of Inquiry (Cof I) will go deep to ascertain the exact cause of the accident, preliminary investigations reveal it to be the failure of the power plant of the singleengine fighter which eventually resulted in the loss of the ‘jet’. Incidentally, this happens to be the first case of engine failure in the Mirage 2000 fleet since its induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF), a quarter of a century ago. As a matter of fact, Air Marshal Anil Chopra had gone to Gwalior in his capacity of being the ‘Commodore Commandant’ — an honour and a privilege conferred on the senior most serving ex-Commanding Officer of a squadron—to participate in the silver jubilee functions of Mirage 2000 induction into the IAF’s No. 1 (Tigers) and No. 7 (Battle Axes) squadrons. From its first induction into service in 1985, the IAF went on to eventually raise three squadrons—the third being No. 9 Squadron (Wolf Pack), also located at Gwalior since its raising in 2004. In the process, the IAF acquired a total of 49 single-seat and 10 twin-seat versions of this highly versatile multi-role fighter. Mirage 2000 proved to be a boon for the IAF, posting consistently high rate of serviceability in all its years of operations and continues to do so. During the entire period of Kargil War in 1999, for example, Mirage 2000 had maintained an incredible serviceability state of near 100 per cent. The aircraft also acquitted itself admirably, as the most capable precision attack aircraft both during day as well as night missions. But the story does not end here. Mirage 2000 has also posted one of the best flight safety records amongst all the fighter fleets of the IAF, having lost only four aircraft (including the one under discussion), with an enviable—at least in the IAF’s context—CAT-I accident rate of roughly .25 per 10,000 hours. One of the major constituents for the consistently high serviceability in the Mirage fleet was the creation of excel6 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
lent logistics/maintenance support at Gwalior—home base of the entire Mirage 2000 fleet since induction—which included setting up of an engine test bed (ETB), at the base itself. This facility not only enabled quick snag rectification, minor or major, but also ensured strict ‘quality control’ standards by the technical crews. Little wonder, it contributed immensely in maintaining an excellent flight safety record even in the ‘uniquely configured’ single-engine fighter—at least, till the February 25 accident. In this particular case, an engine snag reportedly occurred soon after take-off, initially causing partial loss of power, but still enabling the aircraft to climb to a height of 8,000 ft. During this period, the pilots must have focused their attention to problem solving, but was there a possibility of recovering the aircraft while it was still developing partial thrust? It may be recalled that amongst many in the past, there was a case of a Su-7, which experienced substantial loss of power due to a large bird-hit in the engine soon after take-off from Ambala airbase, but with some quick thinking, and carrying out a teardrop turn, the pilot was able to safely recover the aircraft on the reciprocal runway. However, as every occurrence is different from the other, the one cited above may have had no relevance in the present case. In any event, as is customary, the C of I, will dwell upon all aspects of the accident to find the truth and remove any speculations which may be doing the rounds now. One last point, contrary to apprehensions being raised in some sections of the press; it is not only normal but also desirable for senior officers to fly the fighters, as long as they qualify for the mission being flown. And that includes operational missions, if the situation so demands (as it happened during the Kargil air operations). These cannot but send only positive signals and a morale boosting dose to the ‘Field’. SP —Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia www.spsaviation.net
Air India may sell its Dreamliners
Air India may sell the Boeing 787 Dreamliners at a premium to cut losses. The Civil Aviation Ministry is discussing a proposal to sell the 27 medium haul aircraft, which will attract a substantial premium, over the cost quoted in 2005. The profits from the sale, if finally approved by the government, could make Air India richer by `7,200 crore, equivalent to a third of its accumulated losses pegged at `20,000 crore. After a delay of over three years, Boeing is expected to deliver seven Dreamliners this year. If it takes delivery and sells all the 27 planes, it would make a profit of `7,200 crore over a couple of years, depending on the delivery schedule.
he Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a twin-engine, long-range, wide-body jetliner with a capacity ranging from 210 to 290 passengers. Its airframe is made largely of composite materials and is the world’s first major airliner to employ this technology. Extensive use of composites has made the aircraft much lighter and combined with new generation engines, offers a higher degree of fuel efficiency compared to other aircraft in its class. Induction of the aircraft would have helped Air India leapfrog into the next generation. Unfortunately the national carrier now has other plans. Originally scheduled to enter service in May 2008, the project has been delayed due to unforeseen problems associated with development of new technologies. However, flight testing was completed mid2011 and the Dreamliner entered commercial service with All Nippon Airways on October 26, 2011. By this time, the 787 programme had logged 873 orders from 57 customers. Air India was the second airline to order this aircraft. The deal for 27 aircraft. signed in 2005 carried a price tag of `703 crore each. Since then the price of the Dreamliner has gone up by 37 per cent and now stands at `970 crore apiece. Around 2006-07, symptoms of serious financial distress began to appear and by March 2011, the airline had accumulated a debt of `42,570 crore and operating loss of `22,000 crore. A major exercise at restructuring was launched a few years ago but there appears to be no perceptible change in the health of the airlines. Today, the airline is unable to pay salaries or fulfil its obligations to its debtors with any degree of certainty. Being a government-run organisation, Air India is overstaffed, has low productivity and is bedevilled by labour disputes and continual interference by the government. Severely handicapped with the legacy of the public sector, it is clearly not able to compete in the market against the private carriers.
In September 2011, Vayalar Ravi, the then Minister of Civil Aviation, disclosed that as Air India was over-burdened by debt, the airline did not have the resources to pay for the 27 Boeing 787 on order. For Air India, finding ways to reduce the size of cumulative loss attained high priority. Apart from a claim on Boeing for $1 billion (`5000 crore) for the delay in the delivery of the Dreamliner, the management of the airline explored different options to exit the deal for the aircraft that undoubtedly was the best; but given the financial mess in the airline, it had become unaffordable. One of the options evaluated was to cut down the size of the order from 27 to 12 aircraft. The other was to change the order to single aisle narrow body aircraft in place of the twin-aisle wide body Dreamliners. On November 30, 2011, Air India’s board approved a saleand-leaseback option for the fleet in question and after final clearance by the government, will proceed with further steps. Cancellation of the order was never an option. Ironically, Air India is moving forward with its plan to exit from the deal after having waited for seven years and at a time when the aircraft is about to be inducted and more significantly, is going to be showcased in the national carriers livery at India Aviation 2012 at Hyderabad from March 14 to 18. But in the final analysis, it is more important for Air India to set its house in order and explore disinvestment if it has to survive. As for dumping the deal for the Dreamliner for the sake of hefty profit may not be the best option for restoration of financial health of the airline. Perhaps it would be more expedient to actually induct the airliner and exploit its fuel efficiency and low operating cost to improve not only the viability of its business model but also the image of the airline on the global scene. SP —Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 7
At this point, Kingfisher has defaulted on most of its financial obligations, and is operating essentially on a ‘cash-and-carry’ system for critical charges such as landing fees and fuel.To top it all, its bank accounts, which receive the carrier’s revenue inflows, have been seized.
Photograph: Sp guide pubns
hotographs of the media savvy business tycoon Dr Vijay Mallya continue to appear with the accustomed regularity in the leading national dailies; but these days, with a difference. The usual nonchalant attitude and the confident smile of a successful businessman have been replaced by bewilderment and a stern scowl. Clearly, the dire financial position of Dr Mallya’s pet airline Kingfisher is taking a toll on its once proud owner. Amidst an already severe financial crisis the airline is passing though domestically, more damning evidence is emerging; this time from offshore financial establishments as well. A new report from the UK High Court claims that the embattled airline owes $21.6 million (`108 crore) to the Bank of Scotland for overdue lease payments on 10 ATR 72-500 aircraft. The above-mentioned represent only the latest credit issue for the Kingfisher, which has been continually grappling with lessors since the airline first entered into a state of financial crisis in November last year. Since then, Kingfisher was forced to shrink its operations at a rapid pace, down to 175 flights per day (versus 340 at the same time last year). But instead of providing certain amount of financial relief, this step has actually put the airline in a Catch-22 like situation. Because the decline in revenues has further eroded Kingfisher’s cash flow, making it difficult for the carrier to pay for the contracts entered into when its operations were more than twice the current size. Adding to the mounting woes is the fact that Kingfisher is more than `7,000 crore ($1.4 billion) in debt with interest payments now at an astronomical 25 per cent of revenues. At this point, Kingfisher has defaulted on most of its financial obligations, and is operating essentially on a ‘cash-and-carry’ system for critical charges such as landing fees and fuel. To top it all, its bank accounts, which receive the carrier’s revenue inflows, have been seized by the Income Tax Department for non-payment of outstanding tax dues, including TDS on the employee’s salaries. To compound its problems, India’s aviation regulatory authority DGCA too has continued to repeat its concerns over potential safety violations in the face of Kingfisher’s
8 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
financial difficulties. The regulator has already deregistered three Kingfisher A320s owing to maintenance/safety issues and the situation if anything is likely to worsen further in view of the maintenance crews’ recent strike. According to reliable sources, out of the 64 aircraft on the carrier’s strength, only about 22 were operational by February end. This led to large scale cancellations of flights with the airline shutting down most international short-haul operations. The dismal scenario that Kingfisher finds itself in has resulted in a cascading effect with the airline’s market share dropping to 11.3 per cent accompanied by more than a 13.5 per cent drop in the stocks of the company. The downslide does not stop there. Non-payment of employees’ salaries has led to a substantial exodus of the staff— both air as well as ground crews. Some of the pilots who have remained with the company recently refused to operate flights in protest against non-payment of salaries for the past three months despite several promises made by the management. Pilots are also reporting sick in droves with crippling disruptions to even the reduced-scale operations. On a confrontational note, the Kingfisher management reportedly threatened a temporary shutdown. To soothe their fraying nerves, Chairman Mallya took upon himself to write personally to his flock in Kingfisher Airlines expressing his deep personal sorrow for the non-payment of salaries, at the same time asking them to have patience while he works to urgently resolve this issue. But while Mallya may maintain a brave front in his attempt to salvage his pet business endeavour, what exactly is in store for the—at least crumbling for now— Kingfisher Airlines? Will Mallya be able to bring the airline out of its current financial mess and make it economically viable again? Would it be correct for the government to help the carrier with a bailout package? Then, are the financial troubles confined to Kingfisher alone or are these widespread? How far are the government policies responsible for the current financial disorder in the civil aviation sector? And, for what needs to be done; turn to Forum for analytical comments and views. SP —Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia www.spsaviation.net
Gasping F u n d s for
Kingfisher is just an example to show that the situation for practically all airlines in India has reached a tipping point.The private carriers have little hope for survival in the long run unless the government sheds its indifference towards their financial plight and undertakes a comprehensive review of its policies.
Illustration: Anoop Kamath
ingfisher Airlines was established in 2003 by Dr Vijay Mallya, head of the highly successful Bangalore-based United Breweries (UB) Group. The airline started commercial operations in 2005 with a fleet of four new Airbus A320-200s aircraft. This was heady time in the Indian civil aviation scenario, with fantastic growth forecasts luring a large number of private players to join the fray as also take advantage of the government’s ‘Open Sky’ policy. Backed by the financial clout of its parent—the UB Group, Kingfisher Airlines quickly expanded its fleet size and operations to become the second largest private airline after Jet Airways which incidentally had a 10-year lead on Kingfisher. True to his own flamboyant and effervescent lifestyle, Mallya did not want anything but the best for his airline too. ‘The King of the Good Times’ Mallya wanted Kingfisher passengers—–nay, his guests—to ‘Fly the Good Times’. Kingfisher Airlines was to be a ‘full service carrier’ (FSC) and more. He ordered the best of the airplanes and provided special travel experience to his guests with better and more comfortable seats and superb inflight service with a personal eye for details. When operations began in 2005, his was the first airline in India to provide in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on every seat even on all its domestic flights. In a short span of time after starting operations, Kingfisher Airlines was able to create a unique brand name for itself, grabbing a major chunk of the ‘full service’ segment in India’s airline industry. Kingfisher became one of the only seven airlines worldwide to be awarded five-star rating by Skytrax. More recently, it also bagged
the Skytrax award for India’s best airline of the year 2011. The very brand name ‘Kingfisher’ began to be associated with its motto ‘Fly the Good Times’ as the airline not only ensured comfortable travel for its ‘guests’ but also spoiled them with ‘goodies’ and many ‘extras’. The last decade also saw a large number of private players coming into the low-cost segment of the airlines business. This model was pioneered by Captain G.R. Gopinath with the launching of Air Deccan in August 2003—a ‘lowcost carrier’ (LCC) concept, also known as the common man’s airline. The initial success of Air Deccan prompted three new LCCs—IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir—to emerge on the scene soon after and which proved to be highly successful. Not to be left out of this lucrative segment and following a simpler merger route, the leading private airline Jet Airways acquired the financially troubled Air Sahara, rechristening it JetLite as the low-cost arm of the full service carrier Jet. Competing neck-on-neck with its bigger rival ‘Jet’, Kingfisher surreptitiously roped in and later bought out Air Deccan to operate as its low-cost model under the Kingfisher brand as Kingfisher Red. The national public carrier Air India and Indian (Indian Airlines), on the other hand, went on a super merger route along with their subsidiaries Air India Express and Alliance Air, respectively. In hindsight, it is clear that the airlines which adopted the ‘mixed’ (FSC+LCC) models were unable to profitably run the business under the same management. Air India’s financial nosedive is well known by now but the carrier continues to be supported by the public money doled out periodically by the Central Government. While Jet Airways managed to contain its losses, Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 9
That the ‘King of the Good Times’ is sinking into ‘bad times’ is evident from the never ending financial blows it is being subjected to by its creditors and suppliers
it was the Kingfisher which ran deep into ‘red’. The dichotomy and the conflict between the two approaches was felt most acutely by none other than ‘Kingfisher’ but by the time it decided to shed the LCC segment (Kingfisher Red) of its airline business towards the end of last year, it had probably reached the ‘point of no return’ in its dangerous journey to financial ruin. That the ‘King of the Good Times’ is sinking into ‘bad times’ is evident from the never ending financial blows it is being subjected to by its creditors and suppliers. Already staring at a possibly terminal financial illness, it suffered another blow on March 7 when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) ordered over 30,000 of its affiliated travel agents to stop booking tickets for the airline over its failure to settle outstanding dues since February—a move akin to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) removing a commercial bank from its currency clearing system. This has happened at a time when all bank accounts of the airline have already been frozen by the Income Tax Department for non-payment of tax dues and the airline is reduced to whatever operations it can muster on strictly ‘cash-and-carry’ basis. The big question is why an astute businessman of the calibre of Dr Mallya would allow his airline to sink so low. Was it reckless expansion without consolidation? Was it over ambition? Was it disregard of the normal financial practices? Or, was it a mixture of all? It is true that Dr Mallya went headlong into the aviation business thinking that he would conquer it in the same manner as his other liquor business at which he had succeeded as if he had the ‘Midas’ touch. He even named his airline after the highly popular and bestselling Kingfisher beer from the United Breweries of which he is the Chairman and Managing Director. He wanted the best for his airline too, no matter what the costs. And as it stands today, he paid a heavy price for it. But is he alone to be blamed for the financial impasse that Kingfisher Airlines finds itself in? At the turn of the century, India was awash with prophesies of one of the highest in the world growth stories in the civil aviation sector. With an average annual growth rate hovering around 10 per cent for passenger traffic in the civil aviation sector, the story remains intact. But even then, the entire sector is facing the heat of financial distress. While Kingfisher has never been out of the red since its inception in 2005, the other airlines are also struggling for survival thanks to many lopsided policies adopted by the government. Inadequacies in the civil aviation infrastructure and high cost of operations have contributed vastly to the civil air operators’ woes. High and continuously rising cost of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) with taxes as much as 30 per cent in some states, exorbitant airport charges and bar on investment by foreign airlines, not to speak of over capacity and depressed fares due to fierce competition has left the airlines gasping for air. The maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) scene is no better. Servicing an aircraft in 10 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
India entails service tax of 12.36 per cent as compared to zero tax overseas with spare parts attracting custom duties of 25.4 per cent. Clearly, there is an urgent need for the government to create an industry-friendly and financially pragmatic environment. First and foremost, the government should get over the bogey of ‘security risks’ and allow foreign airlines to enter the Indian market. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in a statement said, “A liberal FDI regime would pave the way for foreign airlines to participate in India’s aviation sector and strengthen it.” Suggesting that the government liberalise the FDI policy to allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent in cash-starved domestic air carriers, it reiterated, “A comprehensive policy direction is needed to address the prevailing crisis and lay a path for future growth.” Then there is the issue of ATF prices in India which are amongst the highest in the world. The Indian Government’s recent policy decision to allow direct import of ATF from abroad by the Indian carriers though a welcome step is still full of pitfalls as the domestic carriers would have to go through the hassles of creating storage and refuelling facilities. These would greatly eat into the gains of imported fuel. What is really needed for the government is to rationalise the ATF prices to bring these close to the international norms as also, standardise them throughout the country by making the sales tax on ATF specific instead of ad-valorem. A similar kind of treatment is needed to give boost to the MRO sector within the country. Giving deemed export status to the MRO business in India and allocation of land for hangars at airports would greatly help in promoting this sector and cutting down maintenance costs. Creation of a regulatory body is also recommended for the air transport sector. The regulator’s role and responsibilities could include promotion of healthy competition in the aviation sector, in addition to air safety, airspace regulation and consumer protection while also putting in place a mechanism to stop predatory pricing in air fares. Kingfisher is just an example to show that the situation for practically all airlines in India has reached a tipping point. The private carriers have little hope for survival in the long run unless the government sheds its indifference towards their financial plight and undertakes a comprehensive review of its policies on the lines suggested above, towards this vital sector of the nation’s economy. While, contrary to certain statements by Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily that “Kingfisher Airlines has to be saved” and the government would “go up to the last point” to prop it up, no one is suggesting that the government pay the taxpayer’s money to bailout private airlines. But, it should also take a serious call whether or not it should provide a ‘level’ playing field in the civil aviation sector by treating all operators — public or private — with the same yardstick. SP — Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia www.spsaviation.net
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Civil Business Aviation
Photograph: Sp guide pubns
From being just a ‘jewel’ in the corporate crown, business aviation has the untapped potential of being a force multiplier and a game changer as well
or over five deprofitably interweave it into corporate By S.R. Swarup, cades, business aviation management, a figure of `5,000 crore Mumbai has been a prominent sig($1 billion) would make a good startnature on the corporate ing point. However, it is imperative for radar in India becoming organisations to carry out a cost-benean integral part of their fit analysis before planning for the accorporate structure. However, busiquisition of aviation assets. The nature ness aviation still remains largely a and size of the enterprise in terms of ‘status symbol’ or merely a ‘speedy mode of transportation’ turnover would not only dictate, but also have a significant for the corporate top brass. The true strength of aviation and impact on the type and number of aircraft to be inducted. its potential to influence outcomes is yet to be understood. As it is with every decision-making process, a clear inFrom being just a ‘jewel’ in the corporate crown, business tent and purpose for acquisition of air assets is important aviation has the untapped potential of being a force multiplier followed by the selection and maintenance of the aim. If the and a game changer as well. Unfortunately, such perceptions purpose is the symbolic representation of power, image or amongst corporate aviators have been totally lacking. Avia- brand projection; then ‘the bigger the better’ should be the tion continues to languish in the columns of ‘cost additions’ guiding principle. This strategy transformed the image of on the balance sheet while the aspect of ‘value addition’ re- ‘Sahara’ from that of a little known banking entity to a leadmains ignored. Only with the discovery of the true potential ing corporate giant. However, if the purpose is to optimise of business aviation, its role in corporate management, and the deployment as an important tool of management, read its ability to influence decisions and impact the balance sheet, on the following paragraphs. will business aviation be appreciated as an asset. Range of aircraft is the definition and manifestation of the strategic corporate vision, intent and dreams of the leaderSelection of Aircraft ship. Unfortunately, the significance of range in the choice of Business aviation entails high capital investment and recur- aircraft has been lost in most cases. If the long-term interests ring cost. Like enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions in lie within the boundaries of the subcontinent, then aircraft the industry, a minimum size in terms of turnover is manda- with a range of about 3,500 nautical miles would suffice. tory to even begin envisaging the acquisition of aviation as- However, if the leadership nurses global visions, then anysets. For a manufacturing concern to fruitfully employ ERP thing with a range less than 6,500 nautical miles could be a solutions, an estimated figure of `150 crore ($30 million) is serious handicap. This could translate into one or more refuquoted authoritatively. Similarly, to employ aviation and to elling halts, transgression of flight duty time limits of the air12 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Civil Business Aviation crew, longer flights, passenger fatigue and lost deals. In most cases, range has been ignored, turning precious investment into mere showpiece instead of vehicles of change. The involvement of the leadership is all-important in deliberating on the critical issue of seating capacity. Imagine going for a ‘merger and acquisition’ deal and having to leave behind the Chief Financial Officer just because the seating capacity does not permit an extra passenger.
quarters, airfield elevation and the availability of infrastructure to support aircraft operations could dictate the choice of aircraft. Often the higher echelons of an organisation are located in metros with modern airfields while the production units may be located in remote areas with limited field length, poor radio aids and inhospitable terrain. This may necessitate aircraft capable of short-field operations. Exploiting the Potential
Basing of Air Assets
The air assets need to be strategically located so as to be easily and quickly accessible without operational or administrative constraints. This is the key to maximising profitability. A point often missed is that aircraft standing in hot and dry locations have a longer shelf-life than those parked under conditions of high humidity such as in Mumbai. And a hangar to house the aircraft can add years and save millions in maintenance costs. Amongst the several important considerations for locating corporate aviation assets are proximity to headquarters, length of the runway and watch hours at departure airfield, housing the aircrew, availability of maintenance and refuelling facilities, immigration/custom facilities and radio/ navigation aids to permit all weather operations. Poor choice of location could be a cause for regret later. Availability of maintenance facilities at or near the location could be a major factor in the choice of aircraft. There are original equipment manufacturers (OEM) who offer convenient annual maintenance contracts along with round-theclock assistance apart from supporting hubs for the speedy shipment of spares. Such manufacturers are quick to understand the need of the owners and respond efficiently, often in real time. A display of the understanding of the requirements of clients could easily steer the choice of aircraft. Prolonged periods of inactivity are common in a corporate environment making equipment reliability and speedy response to be important considerations. Adequate thought needs to be given to the aspect of logistical support for maintenance operations. With the manufacturer situated at a distance and no hub in the vicinity, help may be late in coming in case of unserviceability. Most of the OEMs have their hubs to serve the markets they have developed and areas where they sense potential. It would be operationally and financially beneficial to take this factor into consideration while assessing the suitability of a particular aircraft. Dispatch reliability has gained significance in the corporate environment because there usually is no alternative. There are no standby arrangements, no aircraft to cannibalise spares from and often no other means of transport within easy reach. So, often ‘dispatch reliability’ steals a march over appearance, lower cost and higher speeds. Today, there are players offering aircraft with over 99 per cent dispatch reliability. A crucial point is the geographical layout of the corporate assets. Distance of production units from corporate head-
Adequate attention also needs to be paid to the availability of trained manpower for the efficient operation of the aircraft. Companies often end up paying disproportionately high salaries to their air and maintenance crew only due to their indispensability. Pilot employed by a leading business house operating a corporate jet draws salaries higher than that of an airline commander. The aircraft will be grounded if the only pilot on their payroll decides to quit. It is certainly a demand and supply anomaly but one that could have been foreseen and obviated. Consequently, there is mismatch between investment and benefits derived. An aircraft in the corporate environment is not just a mode of conveyance but a potent weapon to be intelligently employed. Its potency is a function of the equipment carried onboard. Imagine a 12-hour flight across the globe and the head of a $70 billion (`3,50,000 crore) company wanting to send a critically important business mail or fax while in-flight, but is unable to do so due to lack of connectivity. An asset can thus turn into a liability, a deal lost and an opportunity missed. The aircraft may need to divert because it does not have the latest landing aids or the software upgrade that was abandoned because it cost $3,00,000 (`1.5 crore). It makes sense to equip the aircraft with suitable accessories in order to give the corporate leadership a wide range of options and greater flexibility in decision-making. After all, it is about the shareholders interests, and that needs to be paramount in planning for an aircraft acquisition. Integration of aviation assets into a corporate environment is not a dimensionless step. As the costs involved are huge, a ‘risk versus return’ analysis needs to be carried out. The resource allocation needs to be justified by the benefits likely to accrue. A desirable step would be to induct an aviation expert who can provide guidance to ensure that aviation act as a catalyst in decision-making. A competent aviation advisor can introduce the management to the concept of ‘expansion of time’. By intelligent planning of take-off and landing timings, a corporate manager can finish business in London, fly to India and continue with his work, thereby adding more business hours to his 24-hour day which translates into higher dividends that only aviation can provide. Finally, the strength of aviation lies in its flexibility. Managements need to frequently revisit this domain and modify their resource infrastructure and even trim it if so warranted. After all, the aim of business is to make money and prosperity in business will lead to growth in corporate aviation. SP
Today, there are players offering aircraft with over 99 per cent dispatch reliability
Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 13
Civil Regional Aviation
solutions available: Embraer E-170
CAPA believes that the regional aviation market is under-penetrated and the demand is growing at nearly twice the rate of the metros
Photographs: Embraer & ATR
olicy makers, aviaairlines deep into the red. But why By Group Captain (Retd) tion professionals have the carriers been so aggressive Joseph Noronha and ordinary passengers in increasing capacity? Why are they alike now realise that engaged in suicidal competition on something is badly wrong the metro routes, rather than seekwith commercial aviaing new horizons? tion in India. An industry that has Meeting Regional Needs consistently notched up double-digit growth rates for several years, and is forecast to continue Scheduled flights in India now number close to 15,000 deon a high-growth path for many more years, should be the partures per week. However, the benefits of aviation connectoast of the global airline business. Sadly, this impressive tivity are unevenly distributed, leaving the vast majority of performance has failed to bring prosperity. All major car- the country’s population untouched. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar riers, with the possible exception of IndiGo, are believed to which have almost a fourth of India’s population are reportbe loss-making. While Air India and Kingfisher Airlines are edly served by just 2.9 per cent of scheduled flights. On the other end of the scale, Delhi and Maharashtra claim the lion’s in dire straits; Jet Airways and SpiceJet are not far behind. A variety of factors are responsible for the plight of the share of 37.3 per cent of flights, even though they comprise sector. No doubt inadequate infrastructure, a huge and un- just 10.3 per cent of the total population. That is why Spicepredictable fuel bill, the global economic downturn and Jet, realising that a large nascent market exists in the poorly the fall in the value of the rupee against the dollar may be served regions, last October, decided to strategically focus on blamed. Add to that the insatiable expectations of trained improving air connectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. But a key requirement for the spread of aviation to the aviation staff and rising input costs—on maintenance, airport charges and baggage handling. The high cost of capi- remote expanses of India is infrastructure. Unless aviation tal and high interest rates have also conspired to drag the facilities are upgraded in a hurry, there’s likely to be only 14 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Civil Regional Aviation patchy progress. The country currently has 127 airports, with just 87 operational, a clearly inadequate figure for a huge nation and large population. That’s not the whole story, since barely 36 airports accept narrow-body jets like the Boeing B737-800 (189 economy passengers) or Airbus A320 (180 economy passengers). SpiceJet’s choice of the Bombardier Q400 NextGen (maximum 80 seats) for regional routes makes good sense. The carrier believes that this economical and fuel-efficient turboprop aircraft is best suited to the facilities at many of the smaller airports—short runways and basic services. SpiceJet’s flights, mainly in the South, reportedly achieve consistent seat load factors of over 80 per cent at economical fares. The carrier is considering an additional order for Q400s to help balance the losses experienced on its mainline routes. Other popular regional options include small jets like the Bombardier CRJ700 (maximum 78 seats) and the Embraer E-170 (maximum 80 seats). However, with fuel prices way above comfort levels, turboprops like the ATR 72500 (maximum 78 seats) and the Bombardier Q400 NextGen are garnering greater market share. A requirement is also likely to emerge for small aircraft with 15-20 seats and up to
ATR 72-500: IT has a maximum of 78 seats
45-50 seats, to pioneer new routes till the market matures. Aircraft with up to 80 seats are exempt from airport landing and parking charges and billed at reduced rates for navigation facilities. Those with take-off weight less than 40,000 kg also pay just four per cent sales tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) across the country, whereas larger aircraft are billed up to 27 per cent in some states. ATF amounts to 45 per cent or more of an airline’s operating cost, so this is a major gain. Indeed, regional aviation in India can succeed only if based on the low-cost carrier (LCC) model. LCC penetration in India has almost doubled over the past five years and accounted for 70 per cent of the domestic market in December 2011, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). But all LCCs except IndiGo are operating at a loss. Why? The LCCs are hurt by the high cost of ATF as much as the full service carriers (FSCs). Their man-
power requirement for each flight is similar to that of the FSCs. In addition, the LCCs’ booking system is not entirely Internet based, so they need booking counters with additional staff, which raises costs. The LCCs operate on crowded inter-metro routes, rather than protecting themselves from heavy competition by opening up regional routes. And they pay the same airport charges as the FSCs since there are no low-cost airports. Indeed, the LCCs claim that high airport charges are killing them. Low-cost airports with reasonable charges may be just what the doctor ordered. Such airports have minimal infrastructure—a runway, simple terminal facilities and navigational aids—and offer only basic services. They could bring huge savings for the airlines. However, to be economically viable they would need to generate high levels of non-aeronautical revenue. A Helping Hand
CAPA believes that the regional aviation market is under-penetrated and the demand is growing at nearly twice the rate of the metros. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) expects traffic from non-metro airports to rise to 45 per cent of the total air traffic in the next five years, up from 30 per cent at present. The scheduled airlines are forecast to add almost 400 aircraft to their fleets over the same period. Where will so many aircraft be deployed? Many LCCs around the world have proved that success lies not in engaging in a bloody battle for market share with major carriers on mainline routes, but in opening up services to new destinations. The role of the government is also crucial. The regional airline policy introduced in August 2007 has proved a dismal failure—not a single regional airline is operative, although other airlines have stepped in. Clearly, the policy needs an overhaul. There’s a worthwhile proposal by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to establish a Regional Air Connectivity Fund to subsidise airlines operating on regional routes and to help airport operators establish requisite infrastructure for small airports in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The government’s route dispersal guidelines that force unwilling airlines into unviable routes have also met with mixed success. A better way to encourage connectivity may be to exempt the first airline that connects cities not linked by air from navigation and airport charges for the first year of operation. Some state governments also can be more enthusiastic about establishing airports, providing aviation infrastructure and reducing input costs. The least that governments can do immediately is to reduce the sales tax on ATF. States also need to be proactive in guaranteeing a percentage of seats on each new flight, at least for the first couple of years, until load factors rise and the route becomes commercially viable. Perhaps 200 cities and towns across India are rapidly transforming into industrial and economic powerhouses with adequate population to support regular air connectivity. It’s time the airlines, especially the LCCs, recognise that the future lies in such small cities rather than in the severely congested metro airports. The future belongs to small, nofrills airports: A determined strategy to create a couple of hundred low-cost airports can help take aviation to the remote regions of India and trigger a revolution in the aviation industry. The airline sector as it exists today caters to perhaps two per cent of Indians who fly domestically each year. What about the other 98 per cent? SP Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 15
Dire Need is this enough? LSg Sky chefs
Photograph: LSG Sky chefs
General aviation operators tend to be small in size—some of them operating a single or maybe two aircraft. It is not possible for them to have facilities at any place except their own base and hence the need for FBOs. However, the current volume of general aviation traffic is not adequate for a large number of FBOs to thrive.
structured type of service provider istorically speakBy Group Captain (Retd) firmly entrenched in one place (and ing, the term fixedA.K. Sachdev base operator (FBO) thus the term fixed based operator). originated in the US Perhaps there was another need to have a ‘fixed’ support system—the and dates back to 1926. increasing complexity of the nature During the years following World War I, aviation had caught of the support required. Since then the popular fancy and many adventurthe concept has consolidated in the ous pilots moved around the country, US into a fairly well defined and unentertaining appreciative crowds with barnstorming stunts. derstood one. The Federal Aviation Authority defines it as “A The US Air Commerce Act of 1926 served to distinguish be- commercial business granted the right by the airport spontween mobile support teams that travelled along with the sor to operate on an airport and provide aeronautical sershow aircraft from one venue to another, and the more vices such as fuelling, hangarage, tie-down and parking, air-
16 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Civil FBO craft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, etc.” As is evident from the above, the concept is predicated to continually mobile operations wherein aircraft from an operator frequently move out from their base for operations—thus requiring support from the station they move to. Scheduled airlines would have their own support systems at all the stations they operate to and thus the FBO concept is applicable to general aviation aircraft only. The US currently has 5,245 listed FBOs for the 20,000 airports across the nation. In contrast to the defined version of the FBO in the US, in India, the understanding on the term is a bit obfuscated. Under the tab “operators” in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) site, the term does not find a place while in usage it conveys different things to different groups. Loosely speaking, any service provider or vendor offering one or more services or products e.g. refuelling, ground handling, passenger and/ or cargo handling, engineering support, flight clearances, customs and immigration facilitation, lounge facility, transportation and so on at an airport is referred to as an FBO. This is in contrast to the ‘omnibus’ concept of FBO wherein one single operator provides all support to a visiting or transiting aircraft. So, is there a need for FBOs in India? The simple, one word answer to that question is “yes”. However, there is a need to qualify that affirmative with some explanations. In June 2010, Shaurya Aviation Private Limited (SAPL) was designated as the FBO for Delhi airport; there was immediate apprehension amongst the general aviation operators that a full scale FBO model (maintenance, ground handling, passenger handling, etc) would be thrust down their throats by SAPL. This did not come up due to strong resistance from the general aviation operators but the dispensation that did result from the SAPL designation was also not a very happy situation for them. The reason was that as SAPL now had a monopoly over the general aviation facility; no general aviation departure could take place without having to transit through the general aviation lounge, and the rates for the handling and nominal usage of facilities were prohibitive. After some downward movement in the rates originally announced, general aviation operators unwillingly accepted the regime. Since then similar facilities have come up in other stations with the notable one being in Mumbai. At no station, however, is the general operator community satisfied with the high costs especially because some of the services provided by FBOs are not essentially the needed ones. Do the general aviation operators in India need FBOs? Most operators would respond in the negative. The reason for this unpopularity of the FBO concept in India is the fact that it is not in response to the demands of the aircraft operators that these FBOs have come up but as a result of airport operators’ predatory disposition. The ostensible reason given by airport operators is security concerns but this argument is defeated by the fact that wherever general aviation operators are stopped from
carrying out self-handling, the manpower released by them as redundant is promptly recruited by the monopolistic FBO. Most general aviation operators feel that the thrusting of a single FBO down their unwilling throats at exorbitant rates runs contrary to not only the spirit of Competition Act 2002 (which replaced the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1969 in 2009) but also in letter. The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) Act of 2008 and the consequent establishment of an authority (AERA) for the purpose of regulating economic activities at airports is an inadequate act—limited in scope and applicability. The AERA has so far not proved to be of any help to aircraft operators inasmuchas their plaintive cries about the ground handling policies at metros being monopolistic (or oligopolistic) have gone unheeded. While the FBO concept is well entrenched in the US and to a lesser extent in Europe, it is in its infancy in Asia—commensurate with the lower levels of Asian general aviation (including private and business aviation). Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai have some FBOs while India has no service provider actually deserving the title of FBO. Those few companies that do provide services and products at airports offer some piecemeal services; perhaps the only advantage they offer is that they do so on credit basis. What is desirable is that FBOs come up at most airports to serve all the needs of general aviation aircraft operating away from their main bases. On offer could be aircraft fuel services, parking, hangar storage, maintenance specific to type of aircraft, toilet cleaning, water replenishment, towing, passenger and baggage handling, cargo services, waiting lounges, conference facilities and other sundry services. Larger and better equipped FBOs could additionally offer food vending/restaurant facilities, ground transportation arrangement (car lending, taxi/limousine, shuttle van, on-site car rental), flight planning and weather information areas (computer or telephone based), pilot/crew rest lounges and showers, aviation supplies shop (selling navigation charts, manuals, or in-flight comfort items), access to in-flight catering, and accommodations reservations/concierge services for both crew and passengers. General aviation operators tend to be small in size— some of them operating a single or maybe two aircraft. It is not possible for them to have facilities at any place except their own base and hence the need for FBOs. However, as far as the general aviation operator is concerned, cost would be the deciding factor. As mentioned earlier, the so-called FBOs in India have been monopolistic, expensive, no-alternative options imposed upon the operators. Should a competitive regime be put into place—with several FBO options at each (or at least the metro airports), the affordable costs would render them as attractive options for operators. However, the current volume of general aviation traffic is not adequate for a large number of FBOs to thrive. Meanwhile, the need for FBOs continues to exist without the currently existing FBOs satisfying their general aviation users. SP
The need for FBOs continues to exist without the currently existing FBOs satisfying their general aviation users
Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 17
Are Civil Industry
you Re ady? ‘Now’s the best time for India’s carriers to learn what has worked and what hasn’t worked around the world’
he continued turmoil within India’s commercial airline industry frustrates Alex Glock as he pores over the statistics in the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s (MoCA) Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17). “If ever there was a time for someone to seize an opportunity for smallercapacity jets, it’s now,” espouses the 44-year-old Vice President of Embraer’s Asia Pacific Commercial Aviation division. “The dire straits of Kingfisher and Air India are a clear indication that the country’s airline industry is still shaking out after its costly experiment with market liberalisation.” Glock’s views are rooted in an aviation career with the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer in which he has seen the troubles of India’s airlines play out with other carriers around the world. “I had hoped that in India, managers would have learned from the mistakes of those who are now piled on the giant scrap heap of failed airlines.” Glock is an ardent believer that the family of 70- to 120-seat E-Jets is right for India. The total number of non-stop city pairs flown by all commercial carriers has not increased since 2007. “Five years and no growth, what does that tell you?” Glock asks. Despite the presence of six major airlines and a robust delivery stream of new narrow body and turboprop aircraft, operators are not opening new routes. “Everyone is flying on top of each other, all wanting a piece of the pie. But it’s just not big enough to profitably sustain so many, chasing so few passengers at such low fares. I’ve said this so many times that I’m starting to sound like a broken record.” Airline capacity is, indeed, highly concentrated. In 2010, the top five business routes accounted for about 34 per cent of all domestic available seat kilometres while nearly half (48 per cent) of all capacity was allocated on just 10 city pairs. As Embraer sees it, Indian carriers are locked in a market share battle on overlapping routes in limited networks with duplicated schedules. Of the country’s 274 domestic markets, there are only nine in which a single airline dominates, with traffic share that is more than twice its competitor. Network connectivity is essential, according to Glock. “You need only to know about the success stories with 100seat jets and the radical transformations the other countries are making to their domestic industries to appreciate the 18 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
potential in India. Just look at what’s happening in Brazil, China, Central Asia and Russia.” With 75 per cent of all ASKs touching Mumbai or New Delhi, the Indian domestic network is pure hub-and-spoke. But is this simply a function of population distribution, true market demand and economics? Is India fundamentally different from other countries with large populations and huge geography? “Absolutely not,” says Glock. “Azul Airlines in Brazil will have nearly 60 E-Jets in operation by the end of this year and has ordered another 24. By using smaller-capacity aircraft and flying to lower-cost, less-congested secondary airports and rejecting the entire hub-and-spoke business model, it’s tapped into a whole new category of price-sensitive traveller. People who could only afford to take the bus are now flying, and not just once a year. What happened in Brazil is the kind of thing that is the basis of Harvard Business School case studies.” Glock also cites the E-Jets acquisitions of China Southern and Hebei Airlines to open the vast, mineral rich provinces of western China with their new planes. “Big jets won’t work there. Those airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority of China recognised that 100-seat jets are the best solution for secondary markets. The provincial economies and passenger enplanements are skyrocketing.” How does this relate to India? According to Embraer’s own forecast, some 60 city pairs that do not have non-stop air service today will have sufficient passenger volumes by 2016 to support the first non-stop flights with regional jets of at least 70 seats. More than half of those routes are medium or long-range, averaging 1,325 kilometres, and most of those will link one of the country’s metro airports with secondary cities. In the next four years, Embraer has identified eight point-to-point long and thin sectors that will have enough passenger demand to justify non-stop flights. “Now’s the best time for India’s carriers to learn what has worked and what hasn’t worked around the world,” says Glock. “They needn’t go through the pain of collapse and rebuilding. But they need to invest in smaller capacity equipment so that they can go where their competitors with their larger aircraft cannot. And we’re ready when they are.” SP —SP’s Special Correspondent www.spsaviation.net
EnhancingRelationships While offering an array of opportunities to owners, suppliers and operators for promotion of their products and services in the rapidly growing Indian market, the Aviation Expo focused on the removal of bottlenecks to ensure continued growth
he third Indian The speakers said that Business Aviation active participation of the Expo (IBAE), organindustry and the governised by the Exhibiment can ensure India’s tions India Group and MIU place as the third largEvents, was held at the est market for aviation in Grand hotel, New Delhi, on next five years. Kapil Kaul, February 21-22, 2012. CEO, South Asia, Centre The expo provided a for Asia Pacific Aviation, right platform enhancing expressed the need for an both domestic and interincreased transparent ennational business relationgagement between all key ships and partnerships. stakeholders within the Leading industry experts sector. While sharing his addressed the sessions concerns about demand proposing pragmatic soand development of busilutions to the key issues ness aviation in India, he addressing with smile: Naveen Jindal, Member of Parliament related to the sector. The also mentioned the key and Chairman & Managing Director, Jindal Steel and Power expo witnessed 40 per cent enablers like training, during his inaugural address increase in the number of physical framework, fidelegates with international participation from 10 countries nancial institutions, safety and security which require urand presence of 25 national and international speakers. gent attention. Facts catering to additional business jet fleet and general The robust data with both present and projected figures aviation industry valuation were shared by the industry an- was highlighted, thereby, shedding light on the upswing the alysts during the inaugural session. sector is expected to experience in the coming years. Todd While offering an array of opportunities to owners, sup- Hattaway, Regional Sales Director, India, Hawker Beechpliers and operators for promotion of their products and ser- craft, introduced MRO basics to the audience and said that vices in the rapidly growing Indian market, the expo focused the aviation industry is tough but exciting. on the removal of bottlenecks to ensure continued growth. Phil Jordan, CEO, Business Air International, and Aadesh Unveiling the white paper titled ”General Aviation–Un- Batra, Managing Director, Hunt and Palmer, were part of folding Horizons”, Naveen Jindal, Member of Parliament and the panel discussion on the “role of brokers”. ‘Trustworthy’ Chairman and Managing Director, Jindal Steel and Power, fe- and ‘exclusivity’ were termed as key and vital ingredients licitated PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for providing a com- of a broker along with well-tailored solutions which clients prehensive report comprising useful and intriguing insights look for while engaging in dealings. The compelling need into the industry. “The role of general aviation and business for integrity between broker and operator was highlighted. aviation in nation building” was highlighted by Jindal. Rahul Garg, Executive Director of PwC, made a few recRohit Kapur, President, Business Aircraft Operators As- ommendations on “careful contracting” and “tightly ring sociation (BAOA), and Dhiraj Mathur, Executive Director, fencing outright sales”. PwC Private Ltd, emphasised the tangible issues pertaining R.M. Bhargava, CEO, Desfab Engineers & Builders, to infrastructure. They highlighted the growth of infrastruc- brought forward ground infrastructure conditions. Further, ture in Indian aviation industry and especially in the heli- he cited incidents of failure due to inefficient ground equipcopter sector; need for alternative dedicated general avia- ment, thereby recommending proper designing of hangars tion airports in metropolis, airstrips and heliports, and fixed for efficient operations and coordination between the perbase operators (FBOs) and maintenance repair overhaul sonnel manning the hangars. (MRO) across the nation. The panelists and participants were unanimous about Subjects like “intangible challenges of regulatory frame- the urgent need of government participation in the business work, connectivity and communication” were analysed and aviation sector, which will place the Indian aerospace industhe need for effective and transparent monitoring mecha- try in the global arena. SP —By SP’s Correspondent nisms was underlined. Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 19
Military Air-to-Surface Missiles
Battling Neighbourhood Challenges
The Indo-Russian JV BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited is developing an Mk II version of the BrahMos as well.With a speed of Mach 7, it will have twice the speed of the current BrahMos-I. BrahMos-II has been titled as the fastest hypersonic missile in the world. Perhaps that would help India slowdown hypertensions in its neighbourhood.
Photograph: Anoop Kamath
nlike the air-toIn present day parlance, an airBy Air Marshal (Retd) air missiles which to-surface missile (also air-to-ground V.K. Bhatia generally followed the missile, AGM, ASM or ATGM) is a evolutionary pattern of missile designed to be launched from the aerial platforms on military aircraft and strike targets on which they were carland, at sea, or both. They are similar ried, the concept of air-to-surface or to guided glide bombs but to be conair-to-ground missiles, in comparisidered a missile, they usually conson, followed a different route. The concept took off early tain some form of propulsion system. Henchel’s Hs 293A, last century in the form of torpedoes launched from aircraft for example, had a belly-mounted liquid fuel rocket engine essentially against maritime targets either in a freefall mode to give it propulsion after launch which is why it is considor wire/radio controlled after launch. But it was the German ered to be the first of the air-to-surface missiles to have been war machine which developed and operationalised what used successfully in war. may fall into the category of the present day air-to-surface Currently, the two most common propulsion systems for guided missiles. They were the radio-controlled Henschel’s air-to-surface missiles are rocket motors and jet engines. Hs 293A and Ruhrstahl’s SD1400X, known as ‘Fritz X’, both These also tend to correspond to the range of the missiles— air-launched, primarily against ships at sea. The Henschel short and long, respectively. Some Russian air-to-surface Hs 293 was responsible for the world’s first successful guid- missiles are powered by ramjets, giving them both a long ed missile attack, sinking the British ship Egret on August range and high speed. 27, 1943. The weapon initially possessed an 18-channel Guidance for air-to-surface missiles is typically via laser radio control system and was flown in the same way as a guidance, infrared guidance, optical guidance or global posiradio-controlled airplane. Wire guidance was subsequent- tioning systems (GPS) signals. The type of guidance depends ly adopted when it was discovered that the bomb’s radio on the type of target. Ships, for example, may be detected receiver was vulnerable to electronic countermeasures. via passive or active radar, while this would not work very Of the 15 battleships lost to airpower, one of those—the well against land targets which typically do not contain such 41,650-tonne Italian flagship Roma—was sunk by a Fritz X. a large mass of metal surrounded by empty space. The British battleship warspite was put out of commission One of the major advantages of air-to-surface missiles for six months by this weapon. Fritz Xs also hit the cruiser over other weapons available for aircraft to use for attack USS Philadelphia, heavily damaged the cruiser USS Savan- on ground targets is the standoff distance they provide. This nah, and sank the Royal Navy light cruiser Spartan. allows them to launch the weapons outside the most intense
20 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Military Air-to-Surface Missiles air defences around the target site. Most air-to-surface missiles are fire-and-forget in order to take most advantage of the standoff distance i.e. allow the launching platform to turn away after launch. Some missiles have enough range to be launched over the horizon. These missiles (typically cruise missiles) need to be able to find and home in on the target autonomously. Air-to-surface missiles could broadly be subdivided into four categories viz. anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), typically launched from helicopters, maritime strike or land attack guided missiles, antiradiation missiles and air-launched cruise missiles. While different types of air launched missiles have different roles to play in the modern war zones, it is the air launched cruise missile (ALCM) which is gaining greater currency because these can be launched from varying standoff ranges. The launch aircraft therefore, while still transiting through friendly or less hostile airspace, are able to launch their mostly ‘fire-and-forget’ weapon loads and turn back towards their recovery bases while the ALCMs home onto their targets, engaging them with pin-point accuracies. Historically, three countries—USA, USSR (now Russia) and China—have been the prolific makers of the air launched air-to-surface missile (ASM) systems, but in the field of ALCMs, many other nations are also jumping in the fray. These include Brazil (AVMT-300), the European Consortium (Storm Shadow) from MBDA (UK, France, Italy), France (Air-Sol Moyenne Portée: ASMP), Germany (Taurus KEPD 350), India (BrahMos, Nirbhay) and even Pakistan (Ra’ad) to name a few. It is interesting to note that within the troika of China; Pakistan and India—tied to each other through geographical boundaries, mutual hostilities and border disputes—each country is embarked upon developing their own versions of ALCMs. Among many other older types, China is now trying to perfect the YJ-12. On the other hand, as stated earlier, Pakistan is developing the Ra’ad and India in a joint venture with Russia is developing the air launched version of the BrahMos. It would be in the fitness of things to discuss the developments in India’s neighbourhood and its own efforts to meet the arising security challenges by creating matching capabilities in this field of warfare, in greater detail.
India and Russia intend to make 2,000 BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles over the next 10 years
Pakistan (Ra’ad): Western Theatre
The Ra’ad (meaning Thunder) is an air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) developed by Pakistan and operational with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Though initially launched from a PAF Dassault Mirage III retrofit of strike element (ROSE) combat aircraft during testing, the missile is planned to be integrated with and launched from other PAF platforms such as the JF-17 combat aircraft. The Ra’ad’s current range is stated to be 350 km. Ra’ad is designed to attack fixed enemy installations (such as radar posts, command nodes and stationary surface-to-air missile launchers) at stand-off range, keeping the launching aircraft away from enemy air defence systems. The accuracy of the missile is reported to be comparable to Pakistan’s Babur cruise missile, which has “pinpoint accuracy”, according to official sources. But the Ra’ad, developed by Pakistan’s Air Weapons Complex and National Engineering and Scientific Commis-
sion (NESCOM), appears to be an entirely new missile, as is evident by the new name and a new official designation of Hatf VIII. China (YJ-12): Northern Areas
YJ is the abbreviation of Yingji (meaning Eagle Strike), a little known supersonic Chinese anti-ship missile developed in the 1990s. Externally, YJ-12 looks almost identical to ASMP, and the performance, size and weight of these two missiles are also very similar, prompting claims of YJ-12 being a Chinese copy of ASMP. However, Chinese developers have denied this and claim that the missile is indigenously developed, without any French input. The propulsion system of the missile is a ramjet engine integrated with a rocket booster, reportedly based on that of Kh-31 and developed with the help of Russian expertise. YJ-12 is claimed to be the first Chinese supersonic anti-ship missile to incorporate the modular design concept, and around a dozen models have been developed or are under development.
India (Brahmos): Meeting the Challenges
BrahMos is a stealth supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia (NPOM) who have together formed BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. It is the world’s fastest cruise missile in operation. The missile is named after two rivers, the mighty Brahmaputra in India and the river Moskva in Russia. BrahMos claims to have the capability of attacking surface targets by flying as low as 10 m in altitude. It can gain a speed of Mach 2.8 and has a maximum range of 290 km. Although BrahMos is primarily an anti-ship missile, it can also engage land based targets. It can be launched either in a vertical or inclined position and is capable of covering targets over a 360 degree horizon. The BrahMos missile has an identical configuration for land, sea, and sub-sea platforms. The air-launched version has a smaller booster and additional tail fins for added stability during launch. The BrahMos is currently being configured for aerial deployment with the Su-30MKI as its carrier. The Indian Air Force would get its own version of BrahMos by end 2012. Going Hypersonic
The Indo-Russian JV BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited is developing an Mk II version of the BrahMos as well. BrahMos-II will be a stealth hypersonic cruise missile that would fly at Mach 7. The range of BrahMos-II however would continue to be regulated at 290 km, as Russia is a signatory of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which does not allow it to help other countries develop missiles with ranges above 300 kilometres. With a speed of Mach 7, it will have twice the speed of the current BrahMos-I. BrahMos-II has been titled as the fastest hypersonic missile in the world. Perhaps that would help India slowdown hypertensions in its neighbourhood. SP Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 21
Military Electronic Warfare anti-MIssile decoy: AN/ALE-50 Towed decoy system developed by us military and raytheon
Countering Missile Threats By Air Marshal (Retd) A.K. Trikha
22 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
No matter how sophisticated the countermeasures, there always remain a chance that an offensive weapon would find its target. It is to enhance survivability against such a possibility, that towed decoys have now being integrated into combat aircraft’s defensive suites. www.spsaviation.net
Military Electronic Warfare
hreats emanating from employment of electromagnetic spectrum for offensive purposes have been significant features of modern warfare since the invention of radar. With advancement of technology, these threats which include surface-to-air and air-to-air radar guided missiles have grown both in quantum as well as sophistication exponentially. Traditionally, combat aircraft have relied on a variety of onboard jammers for self-protection. These jammers emit electronic signals to impede or deny the threat radar’s ability to precisely locate the aircraft, thus negating the weapon’s effectiveness. In response to development of ever more effective radars, increasingly versatile jammers have become an essential part of combat aircraft’s defensive suites. However, no matter how sophisticated the countermeasures, there always remain a chance that an offensive weapon would find its target. It is to enhance survivability against such a possibility, that towed decoys are now being integrated into combat aircraft’s defensive suites. Two outstanding examples of this approach are the American AN/ALE-50 and integrated defensive electronic countermeasures (IDECM) system which includes AN/ALE-55 fibreoptic towed decoy (FOTD) as one of its major components. AN/ALE-50 Towed Decoy System jointly developed by a US Air Force/Navy/Raytheon integrated product team is an anti-missile decoy system effective against active and semi-active radar guided airto-air and surface-to-air missiles. First deployed in 1996 on a USAF F-16, this anti-missile decoy is currently operational on the F-16, F/A-18E/F, and B-1B aircraft. The system consists of: • A launch controller, containing the decoy’s power supply, and control/monitoring electronics • A launcher which holds the decoy magazine and can be customised to fit any candidate aircraft • Towed decoys packaged in a sealed canister, which also contains the payout reel AN/ALE-50 towed decoy component generates and emits its own signals that are intended to lure an incoming radar-guided weapon away from the aircraft by presenting a more attractive target. This stand-alone system requires no threat specific software. It communicates its health and status to its host aircraft over a standard data bus. AN/ALE-50 has validated an effective concept of survivability. To enhance its usefulness further, Raytheon was considering several expanded applications. On the anvil was a higher power fibre-optic towed version for protection of larger aircraft. It was also working closely with the USAF and US Navy to develop an infrared towed decoy so that the AN/ALE-50 could provide equally effective protection against both RF as well as infrared threats. F-16 used a platform-specific integrated launcher/launch controller mounted in a wing pylon for the decoy’s integra-
tion with the aircraft. For all future installations, a standard multi-platform launch controller (MPLC) has been developed. With platform specific launchers, MPLC will make AN/ ALE-50 adaptable to any tactical or combat support aircraft. Slated for deployment on the F/A-18E/F, the B-1B and the F-15 aircraft is an integrated defensive electronic countermeasures system (IDECM). Conceptually it makes a departure from the conventional approach and incorporates onboard receivers and off-board countermeasures. IDECM system has three major components: • ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver. • AN/ALQ-214 radio-frequency countermeasures system (RFCM). • AN/ALE-5 fibre-optic towed decoy system which combines an on-board electronic frequency converter (EFC) and fibre-optic towed decoy. The EFC converts radio frequencies to light, and sends the data through a fibre-optic line to the decoy. The onboard portion of the system captures radar signals from potential threat emitters via antennas on the forward and aft sections of the aircraft and determines an electronic countermeasures (ECM) response to the threat. The response may use either onboard transmitters or the off-board transmitting capabilities of the towed decoy. For the off-board response, an effective jamming signal is generated by onboard RFCM equipment, converted to light and transmitted down a fibre-optic link to the decoy. In the decoy, the light signal is converted back to RF, amplified, and transmitted using antennas integral to the decoy. AN/ALE-55 provides three layers of defensive jamming against a radar-based threat. In the first instance, it tries to prevent threat radar in acquisition mode from achieving a lock on its target. The onboard EW suite analyses the threat, while the towed decoy emits response signals to confuse the radar. If that fails, the onboard EW suite determines the most appropriate countermeasure to break the threat radar’s lock. However, the actual response is transmitted by the decoy. If more than one radar is locked on to the decoy or aircraft, AN/ALE-55 possesses the ability to send out multiple jamming signals. In the event that radar lock cannot be broken, and a RF guided missile launch is detected, the decoy attempts to jam the missile receiver and as a last resort mimics the aircraft’s radar signature in an attempt to draw the missile towards itself rather than the aircraft. IDECM represents a major step towards enhancing the potential of towed decoys for protection against RF threats. For now at least they improve significantly the combat aircrafts’ chances of survival in an increasingly threat rich environment. However, tussle between ‘threats’ and ‘countermeasures’ is an ongoing story of war. That the balance will continue to shift from one side to another, is the only certainty that one can lay a wager on. SP
Threats emanating from employment of electromagnetic spectrum for offensive purposes have been significant features of modern warfare since the invention of radar
Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 23
Ubiquitous There is a need for urgent dialogue within the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Civil Aviation for ensuring collision avoidance and hassle-free traffic management, especially when the UAVs would be used in the hinterland for civilian or internal security applications
ON MISSION: SOLAR EAGLE BY BOEING
ast month was very Research Organisation (NTRO) against By Air Marshal (Retd) encouraging for the indigthe perceived airborne attack by miliB.N. Gokhale enously developed vertitants using paragliders. cal take-off and landing In a recent interview, the US Presi(VTOL) unmanned aerial dent Barack Obama did not mince vehicles (UAV) ‘Netra’, as words in stating that regardless of the it was inducted by the Indian paraongoing politico-military standoff, the military forces for reconnaissance US continues to carry out lethal UAV and surveillance roles. Currently, this lightweight 1.5 kg four attacks on targets in Pakistan. In this context it is also imporbladed UAV made of carbon composites has a radius of ac- tant to note some key points from Obama’s January 5 address, tion of 200 metres and loiter time of 30 minutes. But the outlining reshaping of the US military in the context of Vision next version with longer duration is already under develop- 2020. While reiterating the need to maintain global military ment. This collaborative effort of the Defence Research and presence for crisis management, he has indicated reduction in Development Organisation (DRDO) and a private firm Idea- the current US troops deployment from the European mainForge Private Ltd, formed by IIT alumni, is an encouraging land. Since the Libyan crisis, the US has indicated its willingnews for India’s quest for self-reliance in the defence sector. ness to allow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)/EuThen on, December 17, 2011, came the news of 3,500 lbs ropean partners to lead while the US would follow (lead from of cargo being supplied by the US developed Kaman K-MAX behind strategy); a policy in vast variation to all other crisis unmanned helicopter, to a Marine’s combat outpost ‘Payne’ in in recent history. The lean US presence is however expected Afghanistan. While the US grapples with problems of increas- to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) ing numbers of causalities due to IED and continuing ambush- and although not specifically mentioned, would heavily rely es of road convoys, such remotely piloted platforms will find on the use of UAVs. Such shift in policy is in tune with reduced greater use in this theatre of war. It is also estimated that the overseas commitment from the Central Command (CENTcost of the operating K-MAX is approximately $1,100 per hour, COM) Theatre to Asia-Pacific. The higher reliance on UAVs which is considerably lower than its manned counterpart. would also mean less drain on the defence budget compared As for the increasingly versatile roles of UAV, there is news to deployment of manned platforms like F-35 and F-22. Howthat by July 2012, the London skyline will have another ‘eye ever, it must be borne in mind that the successful UAV/drone in the sky’. To assist the unprecedented security arrangements attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region have been due to being undertaken for the 30th Summer Olympics, London po- total air supremacy for the US with hardly any worry of aclice will be deploying UAVs to ensure round-the-clock surveil- tive air defence measures. Nevertheless, newer stealthy UAVs lance. The 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi with self-protection technologies are also being developed to had also witnessed UAV deployment by the National Technical permit their use in an active battle scenario. 24 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Use of UAVs in purely civilian roles also has great potential
What started as a remotely controlled ‘aerial target’ to practise gun or missile shooting by combat pilots and for the anti-aircraft gunners has rapidly developed into a multi-purpose platform; almost at the verge of replacing many roles that a traditional manned aircraft or a rotary wing platform has performed. Although UAVs cannot replace the onboard flexible decision-making by a pilot, their long endurance and ability to undertake ‘dull and boring’ missions such as surveillance, make their use in tandem, very obvious and attractive. While complementary UAV roles for ISR and electronic support missions remained the major focus, a paradigm shift in their deployment came with the introduction of MQ-1Predator type of platforms capable of armed attacks. The United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have used these in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and in Yemen. The Chinese have also reportedly used indigenous armed UAVs in the troubled Uyghur region. While the heart of the UAV is the payload, there have been rapid improvements made to both the airframe and power plants, which have enabled the UAVs to fly at much higher altitudes and also for longer durations such as the American RQ-4 Global Hawk. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a programme, entitled ‘VULTURE’, an acronym for very-high altitude, ultra-endurance, loitering, theatre unmanned reconnaissance element. Under this programme, with solar power and lightweight carbon fibre airframe, Boeing is developing a UAV named Solar Eagle to fly continuously for five years. Then there are projects for flying close to stratosphere, which will increase loiter time considerably. Meanwhile efforts are also on to introduce mid-air refuelling for tactical use UAVs to increase their endurance and in turn the ‘continuous stare’ for effective surveillance. Bandwidth for both control and up/down loading of data is another important element of these remotely operated platforms. Satellite aided communication has been the key for data transfer and to improve the range for remotely handling the UAVs. In India the Services are in the process of acquiring such connectivity, whereas the NTRO Heron UAVs have already incorporated such capability. This is one limiting factor that the Indian planners will need to take into account as the numbers and density of UAV operations increase in the Indian airspace. Varied payloads have increased the utility and potential of UAVs to make them truly ubiquitous. Imaging itself has been enhanced with visual, infrared, near-infrared, radar and other electromagnetic sensors. Very shortly, imaging by microwave, ultra-violet and other frequencies including use of laser will enable imaging through foliage and other types of camouflage as well as inclement weather. Apart from using Hellfire types of missiles, the UAVs are being fitted with low charge carbon body bombs to reduce collateral damage. Payloads for ‘lasing’ a target for LGB attacks by combat aircraft are also a commonly used technique. Apart from the US Predator and Israeli Hermes armed UAVs, the Chinese have also configured ASN-229A UAV for armed attacks. Apart from the reusable armed UAVs, there are dispensable platforms pre-programmed and aimed at neutralising
the adversary’s infrastructure in the initial phases of hostilities. Attacks on command, control and communication hubs can render the adversary ‘deaf, dumb and blind’. The Chinese are also reported to be progressing UAV programmes based on Israeli Harpy drones. While use of similar capability was first demonstrated by the Israeli Air Force in the 1982 Bekaa Valley operations, recent use of advanced UAV incorporating information warfare programme during their successful attack in September 2007 on the Syrian nuclear reactor under construction, has been a technological leap forward. As a flip side of the military usages, the UAVs have great potential for paramilitary and police applications for maintaining internal security. These can be used for border patrols, coastal surveillance, anti-piracy functions and for assisting Special Forces during anti-terrorist operations. Surveillance of vital areas and vital points such as nuclear and strategic installations is another important function for gathering activity-based intelligence leading to proactive or anticipatory actions by the security forces. Use of UAVs in purely civilian roles also has great potential. These include surveillance and data relay during disaster management. Monitoring radiation leaks, oil spillage along the coast, flood and cyclone relief mitigation efforts, are some such functions, which can be carried out with the help of UAVs. With improvements in robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, it seems the applications are becoming limitless. It may seem trivial, but in a recent incident, a County Sheriff in mid-West, USA, had used UAV to spot bandits involved in stealing cattle. Since the police helicopter in chase had been shot at and had to force land, UAV seemed a better option. However, there are two important operating limitations, which need to be addressed with the anticipated increase in UAVs, in the Indian skies. One major limitation would be that of the availability of spectrum and bandwidth, which is woefully inadequate currently. As such more numbers of dedicated transponders catering to redundancy need to be planned in the forthcoming Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellite programmes. There have been issues of electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), which also needs to be resolved holistically while allotting bandwidth and operating frequencies. The other limitation, which needs to be addressed, is that of airspace management. There is a need for urgent dialogue within the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Civil Aviation for ensuring collision avoidance and hasslefree traffic management, especially when the UAVs would be used in the hinterland for civilian or internal security applications. The increasing numbers in commercial and corporate airplanes as well as helicopters necessitates issuance of comprehensive guidelines for UAV operations by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in consultation with the Indian Air Force, which is tasked with air defence functions. With all such anticipatory steps, it seems that the ubiquitous UAV would slowly but surely make its presence felt in the Indian skies. SP Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 25
Military SP’s Exclusive
AMCA: Unlike LCA It is likely to have a distributed system with smart remote units
I n d i g e n i s at i o n Will AMCA be India’s last manned fighter jet programme?
By SP’s Special ith the amount doctrine, and two, the fighter types of energy and that will be inducted in the next deCorrespondent focus the governcade—both Indian and foreign— will ment has invested be templates for improved variants and continues to that could be in use for at least the invest in the light next half-century. combat aircraft (LCA) programme, For now, however, the AMCA is a some crucial evolutionary efforts get well-defined programme that looks blindsided. Of particular interest is the advanced medium towards delivering tangible results in terms of a credible, combat aircraft (AMCA), a stealthy fifth generation manned potent combat aircraft platform on the lines of the Lockheed fighter concept intended to produce a potent multi-role plat- Martin F-35 Lightning II. It makes sense, therefore, for the form (with a focus on strike profiles) that will, in time, sup- Indian military-industrial complex to develop evolutionary plant the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Jaguars and MiG-27s. The technologies that will find place both on manned and ungovernment prefers that the AMCA project, headed by scien- manned platforms. On the AMCA, Indian scientists are looktist Dr A.K. Ghosh, remains below the proverbial radar, but ing to push the envelope further than they’ve ever tried to the secrecy with which the effort progresses has led many before. Every little bit makes a difference when a legacy leap to wonder if the AMCA could actually be India’s final indig- is at play, which is why, from engine performance paramenous manned fighter aircraft programme (the question eters to control surfaces to control laws to cockpit ergonomassumes huge importance considering that full scale engi- ics, everything is up for change. neering development (FSED) of the platform could begin The obvious evolutions are clear: low-observable shape within a year). That notion is supported by two facts: one, and airframe materials, extensive use of carbon composites, the aeronautical establishment will be investing majorly in internal weapons bays, low bypass low-emission engines, unmanned combat aerial vehicles (specifically the Predator- modular internals, etc. The deeper you go, the more complilike Rustom-H and stealthy flying wing AURA) going with cated and revolutionary the plans actually become. 26 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Military SP’s Exclusive
One of the key areas that India has lagged behind is on control laws
If AMCA Project Director Dr Ghosh meets his objectives, then one of the most compelling aspects of the AMCA will be its cockpit and man-machine interface. To begin with, unlike the decidedly crowded, fourth-generation cockpit of the LCA Tejas, the AMCA cockpit is being developed with a panoramic activematrix display, of the kind available on American fifth generation aircraft. Switches, bezels and keypads stand to be replaced with touch screen interfaces and voice commands. What Dr Ghosh’s team wants is for the future IAF pilot to have a helmet-mounted display system that allows the dispensing of a head-up display (HUD) from the cockpit, altogether a revolutionary concept. The Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADA), which oversees the AMCA programme, has asked private industry in the country to explore the feasibility of creating primary panoramic displays and other avionics displays that would befit a fifth generation cockpit environment. The cockpit, however, is simply one of the hugely ambitious technology wish list that Dr Ghosh and his team are pinning their hopes on for the aircraft they ultimately produce. The proposed evolutions begin at the lowest level—system architecture—and will attempt to build a triplex fly-bylight electro-optic architecture with fibre-optic links for signal and data communications, unlike the electrical links on the Tejas platform. Significantly, unlike centralised architecture on the Tejas, the AMCA proposes to sport a distributed architecture with smart sub-systems. Likewise, unlike the LCA’s centralised digital flight control computer (DFCC), the AMCA is likely to have a distributed system with smart remote units for data communication with sensors and actuators, a system that will almost definitely require much faster on-board processors.
On display: AMCA at Aero India 2009
Sensors will be a proving ground for just how advanced the AMCA programme is, and will be in reality a test case for future applications on unmanned vehicles. Scientists will be working towards getting the mechanical gyros and accelerometers, standard on the Tejas, to evolve on the AMCA into fibre-optic gyros, ring laser gyros and MEMS gyros. The pressure probes and vanes that make up the air-data sensors will become an optical and flush air data system, and position sensors will be linear/rotary optical encoders. Importantly, actuators—currently electro-hydraulic/direct drive—could be electro-hydrostatic to accrue substantive weight savings on the AMCA. Sensor fusion for an overarching situational picture is something the ADA is already attempting to achieve on the Tejas suite, and so, on the AMCA, it should be a standard requirement. One of the key areas that India has lagged behind is on control laws. The AMCA should feature highly evolved integrated control laws for flight, propulsion, braking, nose wheel steer and fuel management, and adaptive neural networks for fault detection, identification and control law reconfiguration. All of this will cost the country much, but will find valuable applications in the unmanned programmes, particularly AURA. Unlike the Tejas, which features an avionics systems architecture based on functionality-based individual computer systems connected on MIL-STD-1553B buses and `422 links, the AMCA’s avionics systems architecture, it is hoped, will feature a “central computational system connected internally and externally on an optic fibre channel by means of multiport connectivity switching modules”. In such a system, functionality will be mapped on resources optimally and reallocated when faults occur. Data communications on the AMCA’s processing modules will be through a high-speed fibre channel bus, IEEE-1394B-STD. The connectivity will be switched by means of a multiport switching matrix, with data speeds of 400MB/second. In the literature made available on the programme, these facets reveal the stunning leap scientists are looking to make with this one manned aircraft programme. The AMCA is almost certain to have integrated radio navigation systems, where all burdens earlier borne by analogue circuits will be carried out by digital processors. Communication systems will be based on software radio ranging from UHF to K band, with data links for digital data/voice data and video. One of the most exciting areas being exploited for the AMCA is algorithms. While the LCA suites no major decision aid to the pilot, the AMCA commander will have the ability to plan attack strategies, avoidance tactics, retreat strategies and evasive strategies for himself and his partners in the air. Each of these technologies, planned in a manned environment are being evolved and developed for extension to an autonomous unmanned environment as well. Critics would argue that the establishment needs to focus on finishing what it has started before dreaming big. Others would say that it’s better to think big now, than face repeated obsolescence even before your bird flies. SP Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 27
“With our AMRAAM programme, we still have an opportunity in the MMRCA deal,” said Caesar Rico Rodrique, Jr of Raytheon
esar Rico Rodriguez Jr., International Programmes and Growth, Air Warfare System, Raytheon, was on a visit to India recently, to size up Raytheon’s advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) programme and hinted at an opportunity for the weapon manufacturer in the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal. “We found that not everyone is aware about AMRAAM. We have got platforms that are flying in the Western Hemisphere today. The ability of AMRAAM to be part of the MMRCA exists, and is available through the US Government FMS route. There is still an opportunity,” he said and added, “We have been a part of the integration process all around the world—Gripen, F-18, F-16, F-15, and can do so if desired by IAF too. “Our Paveway relationship is not only with India, but we also have relations with French Air Force and were a part of their performance in the recent operations in Libya.” Speaking to Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia of SP’s Aviation, Rodriguez further said that the other thing that they want to highlight is Raytheon’s ability to upgrade the third generation legacy airplanes with fourth generation capabilities. “We have a variety of integration technologies, some of which are unique to Paveway and the other system. We now want to take the Jaguar aircraft, which some people might think is falling behind in terms of technology, and integrate it with precision weapons. Very few weapon manufacturers are thinking like Raytheon to bring the legacy platforms forward. We work on a cross section of airplanes as our weapons last that long. We have the laser Maverick, which has been upgraded and now has incredible capability.” On being asked whether there is a possibility of Maverick to be integrated on MiG-27, Rodriguez said that the opportunities are there. “Once an aircraft becomes the property of the IAF, it becomes an Indian platform, although it is a Russian made aircraft. Whether a Maverick or a Paveway, it
28 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Pre Flight inspection: AIM-120 air-to-air missile on F-15E Strike Eagle; (inset) missile in action
can all go in a Su-30 as well. Technically the integration is possible, albeit politically undefined. Whether FMS or DCS, we have the final gatekeeper process. It’s the US Government, which takes the decision.” Speaking more about AMRAAM, he said that the missile has to its credit 3,000 test firings from developmental test to operational test with 92 per cent successful hits. On the Patriot, he informed that there are now seven international partners of Raytheon who have either acquired or signed for Patriot. “It has unique capability and credible weapon deterrence capability. The beauty of it is that the system continues to listen to the customers.” Hopeful about alliances with IAF, Rodriguez said, “The Indian Air Force is global. We can cooperate, collaborate. It is a different customer and we need to look at it differently.” SP —By Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia www.spsaviation.net
Platform for Interaction The two-day event on February 24 and 25, 2012, though largely focused on unmanned aircraft system, had dedicated sessions on unmanned ground and underwater vehicles
rganised by the and built the Global Hawk, Raytheon By Air Marshal (Retd) Aeronautical Develwhich provided sensors and support B.K. Pandey, Bangalore opment Establishment equipment for the Hawk and Lock(ADE) Bangalore, an ISO heed Martin whose Skunk Works has 9001:2008 certified multia range of futuristic projects on the disciplinary organisation anvil. Of special interest to the Indian under the Defence Research and DeAir Force (IAF) were the unmanned velopment Organisation (DRDO), the combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) under second edition of International Conference on Autonomous development that unfortunately is not available for offer to Unmanned Vehicles (ICAUV 2012) was held at Eagleton Golf India on account of restrictions imposed by the Missile TechResort, a picturesque locale on the outskirts of Bangalore. The nology Control Regime. A prototype of the UAV developed two-day event on February 24 and 25, 2012, though largely and flight tested by a team of students from Delhi Technofocused on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), had dedicated logical University with financial resources and support from sessions on unmanned ground and underwater vehicles. Lockheed Martin, was displayed at the venue. As compared with the first edition of the conference Notable amongst the speakers were Dr Siva S. Banda, held in April 2009, the number of participating nations this Chief Scientist from US Air Force Research Laboratory who time round had gone up from eight to 15. In all there were delivered the keynote address, system designers from Rollsaround 400 participants from North and South America, Royce, BAE Systems, Saab of Sweden, EADS (France and Australia, Europe and Asia. The conference had four ple- Germany), Directors from International Civil Aviation Ornary sessions, six industry talks and 50 presentations on a ganisation and representatives of European Organisation range of subjects that covered every conceivable aspect of for Civil Aviation Equipment. The technical sessions delibUAS. Participants from amongst the global aerospace ma- erated upon aero propulsion systems, flight and mission jors included Northrop Grumman, a company that designed control systems, avionics systems, structural systems, un-
One of its Kind
The unique feature of the project is a highly effective industry-academia collaboration and partnership between Lockheed Martin and Delhi Technological University, right from concept to design and till the realisation of project objectives
Photographs: ADE & Inter-corp
prototype of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by a team of students of Delhi Technological University (DTU), erstwhile Delhi College of Engineering, was displayed at the ICAUV 2012 conference held at the Eagleton Golf Resort on the outskirts of Bangalore on February 24 and 25 this year. The UAV prototype was on display at the exhibition and was backed up by a video of their first flight test in January this year. The team of students from DTU won the top honours in a competition to design a small UAV against teams from universities such as MIT and Stanford, in a US-based contest conducted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Impressed by the talent displayed by the group of engineering undergraduates, in 2009, the US aerospace major Lockheed Martin Corporation initiated a project with DTU to develop a new generation machine that would have civilian and military appli30 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
UAV developed by Delhi Technological University takes-off on January 19, 2012
JOINT EFFORT: sp’s special supplement on unmanned systems, published by sp guide publications as the oficial media partner was released by chief guests of the conference
manned ground vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles, mini and micro UAV systems, current and future trends as also operational experience with lessons drawn. Dedicated industry sessions were conducted on the second day to facilitate interaction and exploration of avenues for collaboration between DRDO and the global industry. Issues pertaining to the ongoing international programme related to certification of UAS and their integration in the air traffic management system in controlled civilian airspace and the imperative need for India to understand and actively participate
cations. The team was guided by John Sheehan, Senior Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and Project Manager for urban UAS project and Dr Peter Drewes, Business Innovation Manager, Autonomous Systems, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMC) is engaged in research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Lockheed Martin Corporate Engineering and Technology Organisation undertook the responsibility to provide the student group with LMC-generated design to structure their efforts, technical supervision, guidance in project management and funding for the two-year research project. The team was required to prepare its own design and then develop a flying prototype. For the students of DTU, it was a propitious opportunity especially after an indifferent and bureaucratic response from the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation as well as from some private entities. What inspired LMC to step into the project was aptly summed up by Ray O. Johnson, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, LMC, when he stated that the group of undergraduate students who had worked on a technology that was not even a part of the curriculum in their institution. Earlier on, the inter-disciplinary team of DTU headed by Gaurav Gupta, a final year mechanical engineering student, and 10 undergraduate students from the departments of Computer, Electrical
in the formulation of regulatory procedures and practices. From the proceedings it was evident that despite the high level of automation already achieved, much work remained to be done in respect of technological advancement before unmanned aircraft can be integrated into civilian air traffic management system with the required degree of safety. Apart from providing a platform for interaction amongst Indian and international UAS communities to forge strategic alliances between the two, to enable access to the evolving technologies, the conference provided an exposure to the representatives of the Indian armed forces to the latest developments, advancements and ongoing research in the United States, Europe and Israel, the leading players in this discipline. Presentations made by the ADE, the IAF and the Indian Navy also provided an insight into the progress made in related research and development in India, state of the industry, current capabilities and the potential market for different categories of UAS especially for the Indian armed forces as well as for civilian applications. But perhaps an important aspect of the exercise was the exposure to the opportunities available in the global market for the budding Indian UAS industry as well as the opportunity for the Indian operators to share and deliberate upon the operational experience gained and the lessons learnt by the major military powers that have accumulated vast experience in the deployment of a wide variety of UAS in the wars in Iraq and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Of particular relevance was the employment of UAS in the counter-terrorism role. The scale and the manner in which the event was organised was a clear expression of India’s understanding and appreciation of the capabilities that UAS have to offer for application both in the military and civilian regimes and the critical role this family of aerial platforms can play in the future. SP
and Automobile Engineering as also Physics, had made a presentation to Tejendra Khanna, Lt Governor of Delhi. John Sheehan of LMC and Professor P.B. Sharma, the Vice Chancellor DTU, attended the presentation. The team had designed and developed a UAV for deployment. The 36-kg UAV is a fixed-wing aircraft with a 12 foot wingspan that can climb to an altitude of 20,000 feet, can carry a payload of 17 kg comprising sensors for imaging and surveillance. In 2010 and 2011, the team was hosted at LHM establishment at Fort Worth, Texas, where the students had the opportunity to visit the F-16 production facility. On August 31, 2010, the team completed Phase I of the project and presented the conceptual design of the UAV to LMC. Thereafter, the team embarked on Phase II of the project which included preliminary design followed by detailed design, fabrication and testing. The final phase will comprise an elaborate flight test programme to progressively expand the operating envelope of the machine. The unique feature of the project is a highly effective industry-academia collaboration and partnership between LMC and DTU right from concept to design and till the realisation of project objectives. Also, this partnership between LMC and DTU is an eloquent example and symbolic of US aerospace major’s longterm commitment to India and the partnerships which it seeks to develop and nurture. SP
—By Air Marshal (Retd.) B.K. Pandey, Bangalore
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show report singapore airshow 2012
Podium Over four trade days, Singapore Airshow 2012 played host to about 900 exhibitors from 50 countries and 266 delegations from 80 countries
Photographs: Experia Events, singapore airshow 2012, airbus, alenia aermacchi, cfm, sikorsky, Boeing & pratt & whitney
32 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
sia’s largest and one of the three most important aerospace and defence exhibitions in the world, Singapore Airshow 2012 had a record number of trade and public visitors. The six-day event from February 14-19, 2012 witnessed about 1,45,000 visitors and the largest ever number of top level delegations. Over four trade days, Singapore Airshow 2012 played host to about 900 exhibitors from 50 countries and 266 delegations from 80 countries who flew to Singapore in order to network, establish partnerships and forge new deals. The aerial displays included show-stopping performances from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the Royal Malaysian Air Force “Smokey Bandits”, the United States Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force “Roulettes”. Australian pilot Tony Blair of Blair Aerosports also made his debut appearance in the first stunt aerobatic performance in the history of air shows in Singapore. Singapore Airlines also hosted guided tours on one of their last three remaining Boeing 747-400s, which was at the Singapore Airshow to commemorate the retirement of its B747 fleet. The event had a record value of deals announced worth more than $31 billion (`1,55,000 crore) and the major announcements include contracts for Boeing, Airbus, Pratt & Whitney, CFM and ATR. SP — SP’s Correspondent
1. Official opening ceremony and celebrations of the Singapore Airshow 2012 2. The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes is a six-ship formation display team 3. In the heat of the Singapore Airshow’s third edition 4. From ACJ318 corporate jet for VIP travel on the left, to the A330 MRTT for military aerial refueling and airlift duties on the right 5. boeing’s f-15SG strike eagle on static display 6. Gerard Longuet, French Defence Minister, on the EADS stand in front of a model of Airbus Military’s C295 7. Alenia Aermacchi showcased its c-27J (in the pic) and Two Italian Air Force’s M-346 aircraft in the show 8. Sikorsky S-92 Legacy of Heroes demonstration helicopter was on static display at the show 9. Boeing 787 Dreamliner Arrives in Singapore 10. Airbus A350 XWB cutaway model
show report singapore airshow 2012
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show report singapore airshow 2012 1
1. F-15SG and F-16C performing a vertical Punch manoeuvre 2. Singapore Airshow mascot, Captain Leo 3. Jackie Chan’s $30-million Embraer Legacy 650 lands in Singapore for the Singapore Airshow 2012 4. Pratt & Whitney Global Service Partners Signs Maintenance Agreements with Japan Airlines 5. Ahamad Alzabin and JeanPaul Ebanga, president, cfm international celebrate ALAFCO LEAP-1A order 6. Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO, provided an update on the Asia Pacific market and industrial partnerships 7. Trade visitors don’t miss any opportunity to take a shot at amazing flying displays
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Hall of Fame
quarter of a century after the dawn of powered flight, aircraft were still flimsy contraptions of balsa wood, fabric and wire. Their engines were fickle affairs, prone to overheat or to quit without warning. In the absence of instruments and navigational aids low flying was the norm—there was no other way to navigate. To follow a road or rail track marked on a motoring map was foolproof (well, almost). If lost, a pilot would put the machine down on a field reasonably bereft of trees and cattle, ask for directions, and take-off again. The United States had just 70 licensed female pilots who made a living stunt flying, barnstorming, and wing-walking for air shows. Many died young. They could do practically anything the men did—set speed and altitude records, test fly, carry out decent mechanical repairs, and parachute from planes. But there was one thing they couldn’t do—race. Cross-country air racing was strictly for men. All that changed in 1929. The first Women’s Air Derby that began on August 18 was a transcontinental event, and the opening attraction of the US National Air Races. The contest attracted considerable interest, not so much for the $2,500 first prize as for the shortcut to professional fame it afforded participants. The organising committee had been concerned about women flying over the Rocky mountains and helpfully proposed shifting the starting point to Omaha, Nebraska. However, the women would have none of it, so the start was moved back to Santa Monica. Only 40 women met the qualifying requirements: a licence from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and 100 hours of solo flying, including 25 hours of solo cross-country. Eighteen of them plus two Europeans began the race. The women took their mission very seriously, aware of the constant peril. They flew over parched deserts, lush green valleys and the frigid peaks of the Rockies, navigating by dead reckoning and roadmaps. Swirling sandstorms, heavy rain and haze were par for the course. Forced landings were many; the pilots fixed their planes and flew on.
Tragedy struck on day two itself when Marvel Crosson died after she bailed out too low for her parachute to open. The critics of the whole crazy enterprise felt vindicated. “Women Have Conclusively Proven That They Cannot Fly!” and “Race Must Be Stopped”, screamed the headlines. The women, however, were determined to con-
Women’s Air Derby (1929)
The US had just 70 licensed female pilots who made a living stunt flying, barnstorming, and wingwalking for air shows. Many died young.
tinue. They had support from some of the best known pilots and celebrities of the day. They also had a strong feeling of sisterhood that kept them going—a sense that they were making history together. Besides, glamour compensated for some of the many hardships. Each overnight halt meant receptions and festivities, with the pilots having to change from rough flying gear into party gowns, and suffering some more sleep deprivation, before launching early the next morning. Inevitably, their looks and clothes gained more press coverage than their flying.
umourist Will Rogers, noticing that H the pilots couldn’t resist taking out their compacts and doing their faces, said that it looked to him like a “powder puff derby”. There was no malice in his remark and later the women themselves adopted the name for the annual race. The problems they encountered were common rather than gender-specific. Three pilots dropped out when their planes were wrecked beyond repair; one was too ill to continue. Ruth Nichols, who had been in the lead, had perhaps the most heart-breaking experience. While testing her repaired plane on the last morning of the race, she hit a tractor. Although uninjured she was forced to quit. But 15 intrepid women completed the 2,800-mile race to Cleveland, Ohio, in eight days, and a large crowd was on hand to applaud their achievement. International Women’s Day is a fitting occasion to recall the 1929 Derby—a turning point in the early history of women’s aviation. The race had long been recognised as a gruelling test of endurance, courage and flying ability when men flew it. That so many women, snidely referred to as “Petticoat Pilots” and “Flying Flappers” actually completed the event, forced people to accept them as independent, competitive, intelligent, serious and competent pilots. Twenty-three-year-old Louise Thaden (pictured here) who won the race said, “My success in the Derby was more important than life or death. We women were out to prove that flying is safe. I think the results proved that our purpose had been more than adequately fulfilled.” And Heather Taylor who recounts their inspiring story in a recent documentary Breaking Through the Clouds says, “The courage and strength these women demonstrated daily while facing mechanical breakdowns, societal scorn and individual pressure is dramatic. Their vulnerability and ‘failures’ further engage all those who hear the story. They approached aviation with enthusiasm and purpose while making their dreams important to the world.” SP —Group Captain (Retd) Joseph Noronha, Goa Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 35
BY SP’s Special Correspondent India to test Agni-V
Months of anticipation by India's strategic planners will be satisfied shortly with the indigenous Agni-V ballistic missile ready in all respects for its first ever test. The three-stage missile, capable of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead out to a range of 5,500 km is India's most ambitious strategic weapon so far, and will be a principal instrument of deterrence against Beijing, since it is the first Indian weapon system that will be deployable to virtually all parts of China. The government has made it clear on multiple occasions that it would like to see the Agni-V enter service in the shortest possible time to tie in with the larger regional posturing on India's agenda over the next five to seven years. An officer with the Strategic Forces Command, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, "The Agni-V has been built quickly and efficiently and it is based on the Agni-III system, which has been proven successfully by our scientists. It is important for us to support this endeavour to the full extent possible. We would like to begin receiving Agni-V units by 2014 for active deterrence duty." Govt expands MRMR, approves deal
The Indian Navy's ambitious expansion in air assets moves forward with the government providing an all clear for Navy HQ to proceed with the procurement of nine new medium range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft. In October 2010, the Navy called for information (for the second time) from the global market to support the acquisition
of MRMR aircraft with operating range of at least 350-nm and patrol time of at least 3.5 hours. The Navy currently operates Tu-142, Il-38SD and Do-228s for varying degrees of maritime surveillance/reconnaissance, but will be moving to the jet regime for the first time on the role, with brand new Boeing P-8Is that begin delivery next year, and to be based at INS Rajali, Arakkonam. The nine new MRMR aircraft to be acquired will augment the mission spectrum profiles that will be satisfied by the 12 P-8Is long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) jets, and are likely to be based at INS Hansa, Goa. According to official documents, the MRMR will be used by the navy for maritime patrol, antisurface warfare (two anti-ship missiles and jammer pod minimum), ELINT/ESM/ECM/COMINT and search and rescue. The aircraft expected to vie for the deal include the Saab 2000, a 'lite' version of the Boeing P-8I Neptune, the Dassault Falcon 900 MPA, Alenia Aeronautica ATR-72 MP and the EADS CASA C-295 MPA. The Navy's expanded maritime security duties, both coastal and in deep water, mean that it needs many more aircraft than earlier planned. In fact, the navy has already defined a need for at least 12 more (in addition to 12 ordered) LRMR aircraft, though it is not clear if it will choose to acquire more Boeing P-8Is, or float a fresh competition. Rafale, Eurofighter have one more war in India Technically, the MMRCA battle isn't over just yet, though Eurofighter is still working on a counter strategy to break back into the reckoning. However, indications suggest that the Rafale bid was significantly more competitive than the Typhoon's. Still, there may be one war left that the Typhoon and Rafale will fight. The Rafale and a concept navalised version of the Eurofighter are technically in the reckoning for the Indian Navy's next fighter buy. These are aircraft that will fly off the Navy's second aircraft carrier. The Navy is understood to be extremely keen that its new generation carriers (apart from
36 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
the first one) have catapult launch systems. While the Rafale and F-35C (also offered) are CATOBAR jets, the other three, the naval Typhoon, MiG-29K and concept Sea Gripen are proposed as STOBAR aircraft using a deck skijump. Industry sources indicate that the Rafale's advantage in the MMRCA could influence the way the navy thinks, in terms of platform commonality with the IAF, should the latter choose to conclude a contract with Dassault. The Navy fighter competition is still in a pre-RFP stage, though it has gone through several rounds of information exchange and scrutiny. LockheedMartin has proposed the VTOL F-35B and the CATOBAR F-35C variants, while Rosoboronexport will be making a full attempt to convince the Navy to simply order more MiG-29Ks. A design freeze on a catapult launch configuration would narrow down the competition considerably. RSH Chopper deal at final stage, vendors jittery
With India's effort to acquire 197 brand new light reconnaisance and surveillance helicopters (RSH) reaching its final stage, the two final contenders are anxious for the final result. While Eurocopter has written a letter to the Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh requesting to know why a decision is still pending on the long-drawn out acquisition process, Rosoboronexport has announced that it is confident of bagging the deal that could exceed $1 billion. Eurocopter, which has fielded the AS 550 C3 Fennec, says in its letter, "We take this opportunity to express our concern regarding the time frame for the very important programme, for which the RFP was issued in July 2008. The technical evaluation process has now taken over 38 months and has not yet been concluded due to reasons which
are unknown to us." Eurocopter's anxiety is understandable. In 2007, the company suffered a major shock when the MoD pulled the plug on the first iteration of the same deal following allegations of discrepancies in platform fielded. At the time, the AS 550 C3 was widely considered to be a frontrunner against its then contender, a variant of the Bell 407. Disappointed but not rebuffed by the abort, the company fielded the same platform when the contract was retendered the following year. On the other hand, Rosoboronexport earlier this month, issued a press release to Russian media that the Ka-226T Sergei helicopter would soon beat out the Eurocopter contender to win the Indian deal. The acquisition is indeed in its final stages, with the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) approving the final report from the Army and MoD. India to order 71 more Mi17 V5 helicopters
Following the order for 80 Mi-17 V5 helicopters that is in the process of induction into the Indian Air Force, the government plans to procure 71 more of the type from Russia, including a certain number for the Border Security Force and Central Police Forces. The new generation Mi-17s, with more powerful engines and firepower could be the workhorse of the IAF's medium lift capability, with additional numbers intended to replace ageing Mi-8 and older generation Mi-17 airframes currently in service. The Mi-17 V5s, ordered in 2008, are fully night operations capable and are fitted with advanced sensors and navigation systems for operations across the board. The IAF plans to use the new aircraft for disaster relief, logistics and air maintenance operations at high altitude, offensive operations and for surveillance. • For complete versions log on to: www.spsaviation.net & www.spsmai.com www.spsaviation.net
Military Asia-Pacific Antony asks HAL to realign its business processes Defence Minister A.K. Antony has asked the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to realign its business processes for strategic alliances and joint ventures, as also, to step up R&D efforts to remain globally competitive. Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry, Antony said HAL should partner with design laboratories like DRDO and CSIR for the development of indigenous aircraft, engines and systems. He said, what is more, HAL should adopt best practices followed by the global leaders in the field of project management, quality control systems, vendor deployment and supply chain management. India-Saudi Arabia Joint Committee on Defence Defence Minister A.K. Antony along with the Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, the Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao and other senior defence officers, visited Saudi Arabia for two days to shore up the defence ties. The Saudi side was represented by his counterpart Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence Prince Khalid Bin Sultan and senior functionaries of the Saudi Military organisations. During the meeting on February 14, it was decided to set up a Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation to work out the contours of the relationship. Antony’s suggestion for the visit of a delegation from Saudi Arabia to see India’s defence production facilities in near future was accepted by Prince Salman. The latter also accepted an invitation from Antony to visit India later this year. IAF Chief leads delegation to Singapore Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, Chief of the Air Staff, was on a four-day defence cooperation visit to Singapore
from February 13 to 17. The Air Chief was accompanied by Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and other senior officials of MoD and the armed forces. During his visit, the Air Chief called on Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for Defence. He visited Air Combat Command of Republic of Singapore Air Force where he met Lt General Neo Kian Hong, Chief of Defence Force and Major General Ng Chee Meng, Chief of Singapore Air Force. IAF conducts exercise ‘Pralay’ in the Northeast The IAF’s Eastern Air Command commenced Exercise Pralay on February 29, in the Brahmaputra and rest of the Eastern region of India. The exercise involves joint Army Air operations by the IAF’s Eastern Air Command and Eastern Command of the Indian Army. This is an annual exercise aimed at testing the combat potential of the Air Force in various roles such as air defence, ground support operations, counter air operations, electronic warfare, joint operations with the Army’ including special operations by day and night. Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000, MiG-29, Jaguar, Bison, Mi-17, An-32, C-130J, AWACS, flight refuelling aircraft as well as remotely piloted aircraft from the Army have taken part in the exercise. DRDO successfully intercepts missile India’s DRDO has conducted a successful test launch of the interceptor missile where air defence missile AAD-05 has successfully hit the ballistic missile and destroyed it at a height of 15 km off the coast of Orissa. A modified Prithvi missile mimicking the ballistic missile was launched from ITR Chandipur. Radars located at different locations tracked the incoming ballistic missile. Interceptor missile was ready to take-off at Wheelers Island. Guidance computers continuously computed the trajectory of the ballistic missile and launched AAD-05 Interceptor Missile
at a precisely calculated time. With the target trajectory continuously updated by the radar, the onboard guidance computer guided the AAD-05 interceptor missile towards the target missile. KA-226T vs Fennec The outcome of the RFP to supply the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force with 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters is expected to be known soon as the trial phase is over. JSC Rosoboronexport is hoping that Russia’s Kamov Ka-226T multipurpose helicopter will win. Its rival is Eurocopter AS550 C3 Fennec helicopter. Rosoboronexport states that its bid has a distinct advantage due to its "cumulative" effect as the superior Ka-226T chopper is offered together with an offset programme which will be attractive for India in many ways. Airbus Military signs contract for nine C295 On February 15, Airbus Military signed a firm contract with PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) to supply nine C295 military transport aircraft for delivery to the Indonesian Ministry of Defence. The contract between PT DI and the Ministry of Defence of Indonesia was signed simultaneously, witnessed by Minister of Defense Prof. Dr. Purnomo Yusgiantoro, and the Chief of Armed Forces, Admiral Agus Suhartono, at a ceremony at the Singapore Air Show. The Indonesian designation of the aircraft will be CN295.
Americas Edwards F-35A's first external weapons test
QuickRoundUp AgustaWestland • Lease Corporation International (LCI), the aviation division of global conglomerate the Libra Group and AgustaWestland, have signed an agreement covering the purchase of a fleet of AW139, AW169 and AW189 helicopters for a new division being set up by the lesser. The related contract, which also includes options, is valued in excess of $400 million. Airbus • The A350 XWB’s new engine—the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB—has successfully made its maiden flight aboard Airbus’ dedicated A380 flying-test-bed aircraft. The aircraft took off from Airbus facilities in Toulouse and performed a flight of more than five hours during which the engine covered a wide range of power settings at altitudes up to 43,000 ft. Bell-Boeing • The Bell Boeing V-22 Program, a strategic alliance between Boeing and Bell Helicopter-Textron, has announced that the US Marine Corps has taken delivery of the first MV-22 Osprey, produced with the new Block C suite of design upgrades. The V-22 Block C design upgrade includes a new weather radar system, expanded capacity and effectiveness built into the EW system including additional chaff/flare dispensers. Bombardier • Bombardier Aerospace has announced that an airline, which has requested to remain unidentified, has signed a firm order for six CRJ1000 NextGen regional jets and has taken options on another 18. Based on the list price, the firm order is valued at approximately $297 million and could increase to approximately $1.32 billion should all 18 options be exercised. Brazil
On February 16, the first external weapons test mission was flown by an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft at
• Brazil is "very likely" to choose France's Rafale fighter jet to refurbish its air force, government sources say, a decision that would award one of the emerging-market world's most coveted defence contracts to a jet whose future was in doubt only two weeks ago. President Dilma Rousseff and her top advisers believe that
Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 37
Appointments Indian Air Force Air Marshal Rajinder Singh has stepped up from the post of SASO to take over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of the IAF’s Training Command at Bangalore. He replaces Air Marshal D. Kukreja. The SASO’s post has been filled by Air Marshal P.P. Reddy. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited R.K. Tyagi has taken over as Chairman of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with effect from March 2. Prior to the present appointment, Tyagi was holding the position of Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of India’s Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd (PHHL) from May 2007 to February 2012. Northrop Grumman Northrop Grumman Corporation has announced the appointment of Danny Milligan as Chief Executive of its UK-based Information Systems Europe business. The company has elected retired US Navy Admiral Gary Roughead to its Board of Directors. Roughead served as the 29th Chief of Naval Operations. Hawker Beechcraft The Board of Directors of Hawker Beechcraft, Inc. has announced the appointment of Robert S. “Steve” Miller as Chief Executive Officer of the company. Bill Boisture, formerly Chief Executive Officer of Hawker Beechcraft, Inc., will remain as Chairman of Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. Edwards Air Force Base, California, further expanding the programme’s flight test envelope. The weapons load for this mission involved carrying two air-toair AIM-9X missiles on the outboard wing stations. In addition, the F-35 carried two internal 2,000-pound guided bombs (GBU-31) and two advanced mediumrange air-to-air missiles (AIM-120) inside the two internal weapon bays. No weapons were delivered during the mission. The F-35A fifth generation fighter is designed to carry up to 18,000 pounds on 10 weapon stations featuring four weapon stations inside two weapon bays, for maximum stealth capability, and an additional three weapon stations on each wing.
Europe Gripen is the preferred choice for Switzerland In a press conference on February 14, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer reiterated Gripen E/F as the optimal solution for Switzerland. On November 30,
out. Integration works for the wing started early February and both the horizontal and the vertical tail planes, which have already been mated, have just been moved to the final assembly station, known as Station 40, with the rest of the aircraft.
Civil Aviation Asia-Pacific Boeing, Lion Air finalise historic order
First A400M for the French Air Force
The first Airbus Military A400M for the French Air Force is taking shape in Seville (Spain), where its final assembly line (FAL) is located. The final assembly process for this aircraft, known as MSN7, started last November. The nose and fuselage are already integrated and the aircraft was recently moved, on its landing gear, to the workstation in which the structural assembly is carried
Asia-Pacific leading demand for new aircraft Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region will take delivery of around 9,370 new aircraft over the next 20 years, according to the latest market forecast by Airbus. Valued at $1.3 trillion, the deliveries will account for 34 per cent of all new aircraft with more than 100 seats entering service worldwide over the forecast period, with the region overtaking North America and Europe as the world’s largest air transport market. The latest forecast for the region was presented on February 15 at the Singapore Airshow by John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers, Airbus.
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Dassault Aviation's bid to sell at least 36 Rafales offers the best terms among the three finalists. Eurocopter • Milestone Aviation Group and Eurocopter have announced an order for 16 EC225 aircraft valued at €362 million ($480 million) and will be delivered over five years, starting in 2013. Eurocopter’s EC225 offers superior speed, range, payload, optimal safety and reliability. Eurocopter
On February 14, Boeing and Jakarta-based Lion Air finalised a firm order for 201 737 MAXs and 29 Next Generation 737-900ERs (extended range) during the recently held Singapore Airshow. The agreement, first announced last November in Indonesia, also includes purchase rights for an additional 150 airplanes. With orders for 230 airplanes valued at $22.4 billion at list prices, this deal is the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing's history by both dollar value and total number of airplanes.
2011, the Swiss Federal Council selected the Gripen E/F as preferred candidate to replace their present F-5 aircraft. Saab and Sweden are now in negotiations with Switzerland, optimising the complete package and preparing for the acquisition of Gripen E/F.
• Eurocopter has expanded its EC175 order book with Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen’s (NHV) 10-aircraft acquisition of this new seven-tonne-category helicopter. Deliveries of the EC175s will begin next year for NHV and are to continue through 2015, with the rotary-wing aircraft equipped for missions that include transportation flights for the oil and gas sector. Future applications include search and rescue missions. Germany Germany’s leading engine manufacturer MTU has been awarded contracts worth €450 million (about $592 million) for MTU at the Singapore Airshow. The largest contracts were received from India and Qatar. Indian carrier GoAir signed a firm order for 144 PW1100G-JM engines. Qatar Airways awarded a contract covering the supply of 40 GP7000 turbofans for the A380s it has on order. Helicopter Market • Boeing, Sikorsky, Eurocopter and Bell, the top four helicopter makers, are focused on Asia as 1,000 orders from countries spanning India to Korea are set to make it the fastestgrowing military chopper market by 2015. “Tenders in half a dozen nations should produce sales worth $10 billion over the next three years,” said Norbert Ducrot, Executive Vice President for the Asia-Pacific region at Eurocopter. India • Go Airlines (GoAir) has selected Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100GJM engines for its order of 72 firm A320neo aircraft. The agreement www.spsaviation.net
Show Calendar 14–18 March India Aviation 2012 Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad, India www.india-aviation.in 26–27 March Air Power Middle East Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat, Oman www.meairpower.com 29 March–1 April Defexpo India 2012 Pragati Maidan New Delhi, India www.defexpoindia.in 4–7 April AEROEXPO MOROCCO Menara Marrakech Airport, Marrakech, Morocco www.fr.aeroexpo-morocco. com/accueil_en.html 11–13 April SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AVIATION SHOW Shanghai Dachang Airbase, Shanghai, China www.shanghaiairshow.com/ SIBAS 18–19 April ISR 2012 Copthorne Tara Hotel, London, UK www.smi-online.co.uk/events/ overview.asp?is=1&ref=3718 18–21 April AERO FRIEDRICHSHAFEN Messe Friedrichshafen, Friedrichshafen, Germany www.aero-expo.com 1–3 May Unmanned Aircraft Systems Conference Holiday Inn Rosslyn at Key Bridge, Arlington, Virginia, USA www.uaseast.com
traffic management (ATM) technology has taken place with Airbus’ dedicated A320 test aircraft flying from Toulouse to Copenhagen and Stockholm. The project is called I-4D (Initial-4D). The main benefits of I-4D are a significant reduction of fuel burn and C02 emissions, in line with SESAR’s target to reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10 per cent, a decrease of delays and therefore shorter and smoother flights for passengers.
Airbus takes ATM to the fourth dimension The world’s first flight using a four dimensional optimised and upgraded air
400th Learjet 60 XR aircraft enters service Bombardier and Learjet celebrate a significant milestone with the entry into service of the 400th manufactured Learjet 60 business jet. The aircraft, a Learjet 60 XR model, was delivered to Cinépolis, a corporation based in Morelia, Mexico, during a special ceremony in Morelia on February 28. 250th C-130J Super Hercules delivered
Americas Bell Helicopter introduces 525 “Relentless” helicopter Bell Helicopter has unveiled the world’s first “supermedium” helicopter, Bell 525 Relentless, at the 2012 HeliExpo in Dallas, Texas. The Bell 525 Relentless defines the new “super medium” product class-positioned at the upper end of the medium class and designed to offer best-in-class capabilities to its customers. It features superior payload and range, cabin and cargo volumes and crew visibility. It can carry up to 16 passengers and will be powered by world-class GE engines—the GE CT7-2F1. The CT7-2F1 engine includes a state-ofthe-art full authority digital engine control plus advanced materials, primarily in the turbine section. Boeing celebrates 1,000th 777
14–16 May EUROPEAN BUSINESS AVIATION CONVENTION & EXHIBITION (EBACE) PalExpo, Geneva, Switzerland www.ebace.aero/2012
Dubai-based Emirates later this month.
On March 2, Boeing and more than 5,000 employees, suppliers, customers and government officials celebrated the 1,000th 777 at a special event at Everett, Washington. The 1,000th 777 jetliner will be delivered to
QuickRoundUp represents 144 firm PW1100G-JM engines and is anticipated to include a PureSolution maintenance package. Deliveries are scheduled in 2016. Indian Air Force • Marking a major milestone in the development of indigenous technology in the defence sector the Defence Minister A.K. Antony handed over the first batch of the indigenously designed and developed surface-toair missile, Akash, to the Indian Air Force at a function in Hyderabad on March 3. Antony also handed over the advanced light-weight torpedo, TAL to the Indian Navy. Italy
On February 16, the 250th C-130J Super Hercules built at the Lockheed Martin facility at Marietta was delivered to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. This is the 15th C-130J delivered to the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess since 2010 and the second of 11 aircraft to be delivered to the base in 2012. Dyess will have the distinction of being home to the largest C130J fleet in the world when it receives its 28th Super Hercules aircraft in 2013.
Space Europe Vega completes its qualification mission The newest member for Arianespace’s launcher family, the lightweight Vega, successfully completed its qualification flight today from French Guiana to demonstrate the vehicle’s performance and payload services by deploying nine spacecraft into orbit. It carried Italy’s laser relativity satellite (LARES), the small ALMASat-1 technology microsatellite demonstrator from the University of Bologne, and seven CubeSats developed by more than 250 university students from six different countries. •
• Italy seems certain to scale back its major investment in Lockheed Martin Corporation's F-35 joint strike fighter, heightening uncertainty over the troubled stealth jet's future. Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola has said repeatedly that the country's originally planned order of the 131 supersonic warplanes by 2018 was being reviewed because military spending cuts were necessary as part of Prime Minister Mario Monti's austerity plan to shore up public accounts. Italy will ask for about 30 fewer planes. Rolls-Royce • Rolls-Royce has won an order worth $210 million, at list prices, from Fiji’s national carrier Air Pacific for Trent 700 engines to power three Airbus A330 aircraft. This is the first time Air Pacific has selected Rolls-Royce engines and the contract includes long-term TotalCare service support. Russia • Minister for Defence of the Russian Federation Anatoly Serdyukov and General Director of JSC “Sukhoi Company” Igor Ozar have signed the state contract for delivery of 92 Su34 frontline bombers by 2020. Sikorsky • Sikorsky Aerospace Services has announced the signing of a basic ordering agreement with the Brunei Ministry of Defence as part of Sikorsky's recent overarching sales contract to provide 12 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to the Royal Brunei Air Force.
Issue 3 • 2012 SP’S AVIATION 39
Muse over Expatriates
eport by a Court of Inquiry headed by the former Vice Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal B.N. Gokhale on the crash of Air India Express Boeing 737 at Mangalore airport on May 22, 2010, is now available in public domain. The court has recommended that a thorough scrutiny of expatriate pilots to be carried out by the regulatory authorities before they are cleared for employment by the airlines in India. The exercise must include “flight safety issues for the entire flying career as well as anomalies during training from all the previous employees”. The court has held the highly experienced Commander, Captain Z. Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin, responsible for the accident that was a result of an “unstabilised” approach and failure on his part to take corrective action even when repeatedly advised by the First Officer. The acute shortage of pilots, especially Commanders, in the wake of the boom in the airline industry in India that began in 2004 leading to rapid expansion of capacity, left the airline managements with no option but to employ expatriate pilots fill the void and keep their aircraft airborne. Although there was no dearth of pilots in the country holding Commercial Pilot Licence, these did not have the experience levels to be trained as Commanders soon enough. The airlines therefore found it expedient to hire experienced pilots from abroad who already had the requisite endorsement to fly as Commanders. At one point in time, the total number of expatriate pilots flying with airlines in India was close to a thousand. With tax-free salaries and lavish perks, the emoluments offered to expatriates were substantially higher than those of their local counterparts. Apart from the cost-to-company for hiring expatriates being exorbitant, the practice impeded professional growth of Indian pilots aspiring to be Commanders. However, the more serious implication of inducting expatriate pilots as Commanders in large numbers was the impact on air safety. Pilots from abroad are hired by Indian carriers through recruiting agencies that have representatives located in India. Hefty commissions are paid to the recruiting agencies and their Indian representatives for both the initial contracts and renewal annually. Thus induction of expatriates is also driven by powerful vested interests which despite frequent rhetoric, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has not been able to counter. Pilots come from all parts of the world, from South America to East Europe and from Africa to the Central Asian Republics. Several expatriate pilots hailed from countries with dubious standards in training, but sailed past the regulatory authorities with relative ease without the stringent scrutiny that Indian pilots are usually subjected to. Besides, expatriate pilots were not required to undergo medical examination in India, the implications of which are too obvious to be stated. This anomaly has now been removed deterring expatriates with doubtful medical condition. Many of the pilots were found to be weak in spoken English leading to problems in communication with air traffic con40 SP’S AVIATION Issue 3 • 2012
Hopefully, the authorities concerned will heed the recommendations of the Court of Inquiry and take necessary steps to ensure that the safety of the passengers is not jeopardised by vested interests perpetuating dependence on expatriate pilots trol or in the cockpit, the latter compromising crew resource management, so critical to air safety. Since their induction in 2005, there have been several accidents and incidents in India involving expatriate pilots flying as Commanders, raising serious doubts about their professional capability. It must be mentioned that expatriate pilots who are available for employment in India are either unemployed or for some reason unemployable in their own country. It would be reasonable to assume that these pilots, though qualified on record, are unlikely to be from the top echelons of this professional group but rather from the lower segment and perhaps even those rejected. It is little wonder that even the highly experienced expatriate pilots have been frequently involved in accidents and incidents such as landing not only on the runway not-in-use but sometimes even from the opposite direction. But perhaps the most glaring manifestation of the lurking hazard is provided by the disaster at Mangalore airport in May 2010, in which 158 lives were lost. Hopefully, the authorities concerned will heed the recommendations of the Court of Inquiry and take necessary steps to ensure that the safety of the passengers is not jeopardised by vested interests perpetuating dependence on expatriate pilots. SP — Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey www.spsaviation.net
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