National Aeronautics Coordination Group to submit plan of action by March 31
By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 18th Jan 14
The ministry of defence (MoD) has finally responded to longstanding calls for the government to centrally coordinate the building of India’s capability to design and manufacture civil and military aircraft. In a potentially path breaking move the ministry has constituted an inter-ministerial National Aeronautics Coordination Group. The Secretary (Defence Production) will chair the NACG.
Indian entities with aerospace expertise --- including the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO); public sector companies like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL); private sector companies; non-MoD establishments like the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) which falls under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); and academic institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) --- have traditionally functioned in their silos. The NACG will now bring together their capabilities to create the eco-system essential for an aerospace industry.
To this end, the MoD has given the NACG a specific charter: “To recommend national policy on aerospace and a comprehensive plan of action for suitable augmentation of indigenous capability in the field of aeronautics by 31-3-2014 (March 31, 2014).”
The NACG will also “review and monitor the implementation of action plan after its approval by government.”
Functioning under the chairpersonship of the Secretary (Defence Production), the NACG will include the secretaries of the departments of civil aviation, and science and technology; the scientific advisor to the defence minister (i.e. the DRDO chief); the chiefs of HAL and NAL; and representatives of the armed forces and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC). Industry associations would be invited when necessary. HAL’s design chief will be the ex-officio member secretary.
To complement the NACG in the technical field the MoD constituted another body last month --- the Design & Development Management Board (DDMB). With the HAL chief at its head, the DDMB will include the deputy chief of air staff, the directors of NAL and three key DRDO establishments, and the R&D chief of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
The DDMB has been directed to “suggest measures for strengthening of design & development in the aerospace field so as to promote self-reliance in critical areas of defence preparedness for the nation.”
It has also been charged with ensuring that overlapping capabilities are not created, while “synergizing the core competency” within various aerospace establishments. The DDMB will also “identify collaborative initiatives for development projects of national interest”, identify and bridge technology gaps and suggest measures for attracting and retaining high-quality manpower.
The DDMB, which will function directly under the MoD, is expected to meet every quarter.
Says noted aerospace expert, Pushpinder Singh, who publishes the reputed Vayu magazine: “This is a major breakthrough towards developing Indian aircraft. Several R&D and manufacturing entities have learned the ropes while developing the Tejas and helicopters like the Dhruv. There is a need to coordinate and harness all that knowledge and the NACG would need to take the lead.”