By Sangeeta Saxena

Hyderabad. 08 March 2018. It is the first afternoon at Wings India 2018 and the feel at the Old Airport Begumpet is dull and desolate. After attending the previous version India Aviation for so many years in the past , which though was small but the expectancy and the vibrancy in the air was always good and the participation reasonable, this year the new avatar reiterates a thought that it is high time Ministry of Civil Aviation clubbed it with Aero India and  concentrated on making their presence at that show better rather than having a dismal show and take credit for it. And an airshow with no flying display is the ultimate faux pas.

And unfortunately the inaugural got trampled by the politics of the nation when the Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapati Raju resigned after TDP pulling out support from the BJP government. With the Minister of State for Civil Aviation , Jayant Sinha also not there,  the inauguration ceremony was lacklustre despite the Secretary for Civil Aviation RN Choubey taking the lead and steering the discussions knowledgeably and well. The only  excitement palpable was the local media going crazy with the presence of the charismatic KT Ramarao the Cabinet Minister for IT E&C, MAUD, Industries & Commerce, Mines & Geology, Public Enterprises and NRI Affairs who was the taken by surprise Chief Guest  due to the developments in Delhi.

The  international industry  did show up and the presence of the aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, ATR, Embraer, Honda Jet, SAAB,  Dassault Aviation, Gulfstream and Airbus along with the engine makers like Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, GE actually saved the organisers of some major embarrassment. The bleak presence of airlines in the exhibition area though their CEO’s would have been there at the CEO’s Forum, added bleakness to the event. In a buyer-seller platform the buyer actually seemed missing. The General Aviation industry seemed the only saving grace as the parked aircraft were nearly all of this industry and a lot of customers seemed to be keeping their sales teams busy.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Pawan Hans Limited, Air India, Club One Air, National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL),  Deccan Charters, Maini Global Aerospace and  a few more Indian public and private companies  were there displaying their products. Pilot Schools seemed to be the only majority institutions and surprisingly all discussions at the show were centred around training and skills development. Good theoretically but how much is practically incorporated has to be seen.

There was the CEO’s Forum which discussed behind closed doors and so no announcements and pondered points were sent to the media for disbursement. It is very nice to follow the west and have closed door forums but one should also learn to have post forum media briefings on the takeaways of the forum discussions from the big shows of the world. The event mangers have to be more decent  than yelling – anyone not having an invitation get out of the room. They sure needed a class or two in inter-personal skills.

So overall Wings India’s wings seemed to flutter and not soar.  Hope both FICCI and MOCA get a message and improve upon a lot of things and fill a lot of missing gaps in their planning stage,  in the next show if they want Wings India to fit well into India Aviation’s shoes.