Saturday, 18 January 2014

Defence ministry sets up body to boost aircraft industry


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.” 

7 comments:

Prodyut said...

I fear that nothing will happen.

If you had seen the British "Carry on" series- Carry on Cleo, Carry on up the Khyber,The Black Fingernail ( actually a parody of the Scarlet Pimpernel)you found that the same cast and crew would feature in all the films so that it became almost like a family gathering making a film.

This is what has happened in India. We have the same crew turning up each time- what or who is the "new" thinker in the above proposed lot? These people will simply gather and conclude that Aeronautical development is "difficult". The ghosts of the people who organized the development of the HF24 over half a century ago will smirk!
Oh! By the way, do see if you can get to see the films. It will lift the depression you would no doubt should be having!

Anonymous said...

We must have more representation from the Aviation Industry as well, and I don't mean just the Airlines, but one rep from-

1. Scheduled Airlines
2. Non-Scheduled Airlines (General Aviation and Business aircraft operators)
3. IAF and separately NFTC/ASTE as well.
4. CG, Army, Naval and BSF air arms

I know some may say this will make the NACG too bulky to manage. But think about it- the current constitution is top heavy with desk soldiers who have never actively flown planes. No doubt they are very required and I am all for them. Being experience Technocrats in the field, we need them. But why not complement the NACG with additional persons as suggested. It will only benefit. And the role of the Technocrat Chairperson will be additionally to manage the bulkier NACG.... Not too difficult for them.

ashok said...

some scientists from space , atomic energy working on cutting edge technolgies in materials, ceramics,robotics,manufacturing and newer technolgies of engine designs need to be co-opted. finally businesshouses with money and clout together with RAW NEED TO BE THERE TO STEAL , BUY ANY OTHER MEANS TECHNOLGY AND MACHINES WHICH ARE DENIED TO THE COUNTRY . SCIENTISTS AND AIRFORCE ENGINEERS TOGETHER WITH DRDO AND TEST PILOTS MUST DRAW UP A PLAN TO LEAPFROG IN DESIGN , AERO STRUCTURES AND MOST IMPORTANT ENGINE TECHNOLGY WHERE WE ARE LACKING . THE SECRETARY DEFENCE PRODUCTION MUST BE A TECHNOCRAT FROM IITS AND MBA AND NOT FROM COAL , EDUCATION OR SANITARY MINISTRY FOR TAKING BALANCED AND SWIFT DECISIONS . INSTEAD OF A BABU HEADING THE ORGANISATION A SCIENTIST OR AIRMARSHAL WOULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER CHOICE LIKE SPACE AND ATOMIC ENERGY COMMSSIONS.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a commission of the public sector, by the public sector, and for the public sector.

With HAL as the top dog, most of the recommendations will be to strengthen HAL other public sector undertakings with lip service for the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Prodyut Das Ji ko kissi ne nahin bulaya :-)

from NZ with love said...

prodyut actually has a very good point...remember 3 idiots too???

skyflies said...

It is not enough to simply coordinate aerospace technologies. The government has to promote the entire ecosystem starting from airports, light aircraft manufacturers and a wide variety of GA activity. The countries that are at the leading edge of aerospace technology are also ones with the biggest base of pilots, light airplanes and general aviation activity. Our mandarins have to visit Airventure in Oshkosh, WI in the US at least once to see what the democratization of aviation can do.