The pandemic period has been a particularly odd time. How has the A&D sector fared in the past year, in your opinion? As an example, can you elaborate on how your organisation adapted to the industry low falls?
In the commercial aviation sector, since travelling patterns were disrupted due to the pandemic, there was a disruption in the aircraft production due to low demand. The demand for spare parts was also low since aircraft maintenance was minimal. This affected the complete supply chain and sourcing schedules of the OEMs by over 40% last year. In the domestic defence and space segment, although the production pace may have been affected due to the lockdown, the demand was largely unaffected.
Although the reduced sourcing from the commercial aircraft segment impacted us, a healthy bank of orders from the domestic defence and space segment enabled us to see through this challenging period.
There is a forecast of India becoming the global aerospace hub. Your opinion? How can the government aid company, such as yours, in the journey?
The Government of India has been promoting indigenous design, development and manufacturing of systems for A&D. The GoI can begin with aiding the research that will bridge the gap between design and manufacturing capability with the rest of the world. There is also a need to invest in manufacturing strategic materials and electronics items for the A&D sector. It should also invest in developing Indian standards and specifications to evolve.
Unmanned aircraft are a hot topic both from India's commercial & defence (government) perspective. Does your organisation plan on venturing into this segment? If yes, what strategies do you plan to put in place to compete with pre-existing players?
Unmanned aircraft as systems are becoming more sophisticated and find application in both civil and defence purposes. The Indian Armed Forces have been operating UAVs for over a decade now. However, India’s present holdings of UAVs to meet the expectation of battlefield requirements for the future presents tremendous business opportunities to the Indian A&D sector. We are also evaluating the opportunities and how we can contribute to their development and manufacturing.
There are a lot of start-ups entering India’s A&D segment. How can industry majors and start-ups collaborate to ensure India becomes the A&D hub for the globe?
Indian start-ups and MSMEs have a very important role to play in aerospace and defence manufacturing. About 80% of the parts and subassemblies for the domestic defence sector are being manufactured by MSMEs and start-ups. Considering this, industry majors can collaborate with start-ups to experiment with new concepts, try for disruption and once developed for domestic end-users, they can be exported.
Godrej Aerospace has been interacting with many academia & start-ups for innovation in defence manufacturing technologies, like light-weighting and forming of aerospace alloys to near shape and cut down on costly raw materials and their machining time.
What does India in 2022 look like for the A&D sector, according to you? What strategies need to be instilled to ensure your organisation is a contributor to the Indian economy?
In 2022, sustainability will remain a key focus area for commercial aviation while technological leapfrogging led overmatch shall become the core focus for defence in India. Technological advancements and evolution on the supply side will stimulate demand growth in the A&D sector. The Aatmanirbhar initiative in A&D presents many opportunities for the private sector and encourages participation in indigenous design, development and manufacturing. To meet the requirements of the A&D sector in focused areas will be key for Godrej Aerospace.