We take this opportunity to wish our readers and well wishers many happy landings as also a happy, prosperous and a successful year ahead!
Over a decade since the proposal was initiated by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) from foreign sources and more than four years after the request for proposal was issued by the Ministry of Defence, the commercial bids by Dassault for the Rafale and EADS Cassidian offer of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the two contenders remaining in the race for the contract, was finally opened on November 4, 2011. The excruciatingly tardy pace at which the “mother of all deals” as the MMRCA tender has been dubbed, has been progressing so far, has not only frustrated the ambitions of the IAF that is desperate to arrest the rapid decline in its combat potential, it has kept the participating global aerospace majors also bogged down in uncertainty. Absence of news on the outcome of the landmark event on November 4 and further progress in the processing of the tender is somewhat disconcerting. Hopefully, the New Year will bring good cheer for those awaiting the final decision on the MMRCA.
While the timeframe on the final word in respect of the MMRCA tender remains clouded in uncertainty, there has been encouraging progress on the proposals to acquire 197 light and 22 attack helicopters for the armed forces. The Embraer-145 based indigenously developed Indian airborne early warning and control system undertook its maiden flight in Brazil in the recent past and the naval version of the light combat aircraft Tejas is expected to be ready for its maiden flight in the near future.
The civil aviation scene on the other hand has been bristling with activity both in India and abroad. The mega event of the Middle East, the Dubai Air Show held in November this year, recorded an avalanche of orders both in respect of the military and civil aircraft and made an emphatic statement that the aviation industry was showing signs of recovery from the downturn that began in 2008. In this issue, there is an in-depth analysis by R. Chandrakanth of the way the industry is clearly bouncing back after it was mauled two years ago. The Middle East Business Aviation Association has forecast that the Middle East business aviation market will grow to over $1 billion ( Rs. 5,000 crore) in 10 years from now, with a total of 1,300 business jets in operation. Not surprising therefore that all the leading manufacturers of business jets were present to showcase their latest winners. Trevor Esling, Vice President, Sales, Cessna Aircraft Company says that no business aviation market in the world is expanding as rapidly as the Middle East and in the next five to ten years, the light and midsize jet market will grow substantially in the Middle East, although widecabin aircraft will continue to lead the market.
The other event of profound significance to the civil aviation industry in India was the third US-India Aviation Summit held at New Delhi on the heels of the Dubai Air Show. The summit provided a platform for the fruitful and mutually beneficial collaboration between the US and India in the regime of civil aviation and the enormous investment opportunities here in India waiting for the entrepreneurs in the US to exploit.
This issue looks back at the glorious 1971 war and carries a pictorial round-up of events during the year gone by. With this issue, SP’s Aviation has completed 14 years of publication. We take this opportunity to wish our readers and well wishers many happy landings as also a happy, prosperous and a successful year ahead! Jai Hind!