• Commitment to Safety, Quality, and Rapid Response
  • Targets Comprehensive MRO Solutions
  • Strategic Vision and Global Alliances aimed at

 By Sangeeta Saxena

 New Delhi. 24 June 2024. “ We want to deliver top-notch, prompt, high-quality services to clients while upholding the strictest safety and legal requirements. For keeping customer aircraft continuously airworthy through a preventative and corrective maintenance programme to ensure high standards of safety we offer the client a “One Stop” solution with quicker response time to make the most of the market from international and Indian carriers. And to collaborate with the defence industry,” exhorted Sharad Agarwal, CEO, Air India Engineering Services Ltd. in an exclusive interview with Editor Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU) at Aviation India 2024.

ADU. How does it feel to be here at this Indo- British aviation event ?

 SA. This is the first time I’m seeing the Indo-british event coming up in India and it’s a great pleasure to be part of it. We definitely are looking forward for global alliances, a global business all over the place. It’s it is an excellent opportunity to meet interest clients and look into the business possibilities, so I’m really excited about it.

 ADU. And because we are here for the show and you were here in the panel today morning. So war, what is the focus of an MRO like yours on this?

 SA. Right now, as I’ve been maintaining that India has all the capabilities required. India has all the capacity which is required and whatever we are lacking is only a minor investment required to upgrade the facilities. In fact, we are deep diving into our own capabilities and next couple of months , I will be spending or looking at what all we can add with very minimal investment so as to serve the customer, enhance the revenue so as to optimise whatever capabilities we have and take them into the remaining possibilities. So I will be actively working on that now.

ADU. Now that Air India is Tata enterprise and AIESL independent, does it give you freedom and a level playing field?

 SA. Yes it is a level playing field in the sense that we are free to take any client and at the same time Air India is also free to go to any other MRO and definitely we have to come up to the every single expectations of every single client which does create a new challenge for us. Having said that yes we are there in the field and we will continue to be there. Air India is our largest client and shall definitely remain. Despite it is an open level playing field. Yes, definitely Air India has been supporting us. In fact, even today, Air India and India group is the is the largest client, even today, and it will always remain close to eyes.

 ADU. Right and at the moment from what it seems like is it only airframe MRO for you or is it complete component, engine, everything?

 SA. So now like I was saying that some investments are required to upgrade the capabilities definitely as far as the airframe is concerned we are there and very minor investments and we are there even to take care of the latest aircraft engines. Right now yes we do not have the most modern engine capability but then we are working with the OEMs to upgrade ourselves. It will take some more time. Now let us talk of the components definitely yes now this is one field which is perhaps loaded in favor of OEMs. It is going to be a challenge. It is a challenge.

 ADU. Okay it is a challenge. Now it’s been about two years plus since you’ve been on your own and over these years have you felt that the facility which was created by Erstwhile Air India for you is sufficient and if not have you also decided to expand in the various parts of India not just Delhi not just Mumbai in various cities, tier two cities?

 SA. First of all I must remain thankful to the Erstwhile government controlled Air India which believed in doing everything in-house and as a result has built so much of capabilities that this capability can even take care of whatever is the planned expansion of all the airlines in India for next five years. There is so much of capability available in this country. The hangar spaces, the engine overhaul shops, even the component shops. It’s just there. There is no need to diversify into a new city for the simple reason diversification means a lot of initial investment and an uncertainty on return of investment.

What currently I’m looking for is at least to ensure that the current capabilities are optimally utilized to maybe 95 to 100 percent efficiency. Having said that yes the country is coming up with a couple of greenfield airports. At least a couple of my centers are having an efficiency of more than 100 percent which need some more capabilities. The new greenfield airports yes we have to enter that business and I’m actively working on that.

ADU. Okay and at the end you know I would like to ask you that all the discussion we had on training of you know skilled manpower. How are you going to suffice yourself for that? I am not talking of one GMR having its own training school, one Airworks having its own training school.

 SA. It is a complete industry. So India is already having at least 50 DGCA CAR 147 basic abroad schools in India and they are churning out four to five thousand students every year. I’m not saying all of them are excellent but you can easily pick up one thousand really good students who just need some on-job training for maybe six months to one year. They are there to take care of all your airframe requirements and at least two to three hundred of them are people who have already cleared all B1 B2 modules. They just need two years and there will be license holders. So there is absolutely no shortage of trained manpower when it comes to airframe site. Having said that now let’s go to engine overhaul or component overhaul.

These jobs require specialized trainings which is definitely not being covered by these basic 147 approved schools. Having said again the training required is two years for engine overhaul and one year for other components, minor components. You need to just pick up some ITI trained or some graduate engineers into this job and train them for one or two years and they are there. So there is absolutely no shortage of manpower in India.

ADU. And what could be the role of NSDC in it because it plays a very important role when it comes to other sector skill councils. You also have an aerospace sector skill council in HAL. You can be a training provider.

 SA. We are the training provider. In fact we are enrolling at least 1000 students every year from basic 147 colleges. Absolutely there is no dearth in this country. Now let’s come to the type training. Airbus is running its own training school. Having two centers one in Bangalore and one in Gurgaon. How many engineers do you need? Airbus by itself is capable of churning out at least 500 license holders in a year in India. Super. That’s not an issue actually.

As told to Sangeeta Saxena