A Word from Editor-in-Chief

Clearance of long-pending deals within 100 days of the new government coming to power does signal the possibility of speedy finalisation of the contract for the Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft

Issue: 09-2014By Jayant Baranwal, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

The month of September has indeed been calamitous for the state of Jammu and Kashmir during which it has been devastated by floods the scale of which, as per the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has not been witnessed in the last 100 years. However, this natural disaster has once again provided the opportunity for putting to test the capability of swift response and the state of preparedness of the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is a matter of pride for the nation that once again the transport and helicopter fleets of the IAF have performed credibly in meeting with the challenges of disaster management, saving precious lives and ameliorating the sufferings of thousands. Both the new inductions in the fixed-wing transport fleet, i.e. the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft as also the recently acquired Mi-17V5 helicopters have considerably enhanced the capability of the IAF to meet with the challenges of disaster management. Salutations to the Indian armed forces for their bravey and dedication to the nation!

With the Modi-led NDA Government in power at the Centre, there is fresh hope that the plans to modernise the IAF will now move forward. The case for procurement of light utility helicopters from a foreign vendor that had run into a dead end on account of serious allegations of wrongdoing has finally been laid to rest. This will definitely be a setback for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that was declared as the vendor of choice as well as the armed forces who will continue to be afflicted by deficiency in the helicopter fleet so urgently required to support troops deployed in forward locations. However, the silver lining is that this decision has come as a windfall for the indigenous aerospace industry both in the public and private sector, who should benefit immensely with new business of Rs. 40,000 crore in a single contract for more than 400 light utility helicopters.

Besides, the NDA Government ought to be given due credit for clearing a number of other long-pending contracts such as for the 22 Apache attack helicopters and for 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, both for the IAF as well as for 16 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy. With a few other smaller contracts included in the list, the total value of deals cleared by the new government is to the tune of Rs. 20,000 crore. Clearance of the long-pending deals within 100 days of the new government coming to power does signal the possibility of speedy finalisation of the contract for the Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft.

On the civil aviation front, R. Chandrakanth analyses the state of the airline industry in India that is passing through turbulent times. With the exception possibly of one carrier, all others are accumulating humongous losses. However, despite the difficulties, Air Costa and AirAsia India have dared to jump into the fray in the recent past and Tata-SIA venture Vistara is to take off next month. Also, there are a number of applicants waiting in the wings to launch regional airlines. Despite the turmoil in the industry, optimism continues to prevail!

Chandrakanth also reports on the 11th edition of the Latin American Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (LABACE) 2014 held in the second week of August at São Paulo, Brazil. It was evident from the show that the airframe manufacturers the world over are going ahead with their programmes in the hope that the market around the world would pick up.

All these and more apart from the regular features. We would be delighted to receive any feedback about this issue!