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Boeing May Pilot Captive Unit in India

Boeing May Pilot Captive Unit in India
BANGALORE: The $65-billion aerospace and defence behemoth, Boeing, is evaluating a captive centre and defence sub-assembly line in India apart from capturing business across the aerospace spectrum, including manufacturing, engineering, BPO, KPO, maintenance and raw material sourcing. Boeing could take the JV route to set up its captive centre or could establish it independently.

If that happens, Boeing will join a host of multinationals which entered India through partnerships before setting up their captive centres. Boeing has partnerships with several Indian technology majors such as Infosys, TCS, Infotech, HCL and research bodies like HAL and Indian Institute of Science in India.

“Targetting over $50-60 billion opportunity in the long-term across the civil and defence aviation, and with availability of skilled talent pool, I don’t see any reason why we should not have our own Boeing facility in India,” Boeing India president Ian QR Thomas told ET. Mr Ian declined to divulge further details about the nature of the captive centre.

While numbers on investments and scale of operations are still in the evaluation stage and depends to some extent on multi-role combat aircraft order apart from other defence orders, Boeing globally operates an technology integration and design captive centre in Moscow. The captive centre has 1,200 engineers engaged in mission-critical work. “Globally as far as captive centres are concerned, we go for tools, technology and talent. India has the potential to emerge as an aerospace constellation,” added Mr Thomas.

Boeing has gained traction in both Indian commercial aviation and defence space with the US major running for $10-billion order for the purchase of 126 multi-role combat aircraft. Boeing has also submitted a proposal to develop and deliver eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Indian Navy. The Boeing P-8I Multi-mission maritime aircraft, a variant of the US Navy’s P-8A, is currently under consideration by the MOD for India’s maritime requirements.

On the commercial aviation front, Boeing has firm orders of around 140 aircraft from various Indian airlines, including Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Air India. It further aims to grab at least 50% of the projected 911 orders for commercial airplanes.

Boeing’s 2007 annual current market outlook study projected that India would need 911 new commercial jet airplanes worth $86 billion for the next 20 years. “On the defence side, we are looking at opportunities worth $10-15 billion over four years and on the commercial side we are targetting orders amounting to over $40 billion, considering we are aiming at 50% of the project need of commercial airplanes in the country,” said Mr Thomas.

Meanwhile, Boeing is in the process of setting up $100 million maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Nagpur. It also has plans of investing $75 million for setting up training centres. The work on the MRO is expected to begin by year end or early next year. Boeing is in the process of finalising partners besides Air India for setting up the MRO. The MRO is expected to become operational by 2009.

In addition to these investments Boeing has to fulfill $1.8-billion offset obligation that came with Air India’s 68-aircraft order in 2005. As part of the offset obligation Boeing is expected to buy services and goods from Indian companies. Most IT majors like Infosys, Wipro, TCS and HCL are waiting to grab a pie of the business.***

10 Sep, 2007, 0201 hrs IST,Urvashi Jha & J Padmapriya, TNN

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