Helicopters as a nation building tool: Industry Leaders
Hyderabad… 24 March 2022: Wings India 2022, Asia’s largest event on civil aviation (Commercial, General and Business) kicked off here today at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad with the first day witnessing a chock full of activity. More than 125 international & domestic exhibitors along with 11 hospitality chalets, 15+ country delegations and 29+ States & UT’s are participating in the Indian aviation industry’s ace event.
Some of the exhibitors participating in the event include Government of Telangana (Host State), Government of Haryana, CSIR – National Aerospace Laboratories, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh Airports Development, Airbus, Embraer, GMR Infrastructure Ltd., Pawan Hans Ltd., Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, Turbo Aviation, etc. There were around 29 states and UTs and 127 meetings were held.
At the start of the day, Airbus released its India Market Forecast and briefed about A350. IAF’s Sarang team performed spectacular helicopter aerobatics and wowed the gathering. National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) had a Demo Flight of NAL-Hansa NG, its two-seater Flying Trainer Aircraft. NAL also showcased it NAL-Octacopter with drone formation show. It also unveiled SARAS-Mk II aircraft mockup and released its brochure.
An agreement between CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories and M/s Scientech Technologies Pvt Ltd was also signed for “Technology Transfer on Multicopter Drones” for societal applications like medicine delivery, agriculture, earth surveillance (Octacopter, Hexacopter Quadcopter).
Embraer displayed its largest commercial aircraft, the E195-E2 at Wings India 2022. With its stunning ‘TechLion’ livery, the E195-E2 was the cynosure of all eyes. The aircraft is the largest member of the new generation E-Jets family, the E-Jets E2, and is designed to seat up to 146 passengers in its signature two by two seating.
Airbus showcased its long-haul aircraft A-350 at the static display. The company also displayed a scale model of its single aisle A220 aircraft, purpose-built for the 100-160 seat market.
The day was marked with various panel discussions and round tables with including senior Ministry officials and key policymakers, global experts, corporate leaders and other stakeholders.
A Round Table on ‘Helicopter Industry’ discussed the growth story of Indian Helicopter industry (India@75), the issues, challenges, and brainstorming solutions for the way ahead. Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and Urban Air Mobility emerged to be the use cases that are going to drive the future of helicopter sector in India as per the panel. Ms. Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India expressed her happiness to witness a full-scale participation of various delegations in the Wings India 2022, the biggest event of the ministry after the onset of COVID. Ms Padhee informed the panel that Helicopter Acceleration Cell is the governments dedicated tool to engage with the sector to address and cater to the dynamics needs of helicopters and its operations in India.
Mr Sunny Guglani, Co-Chair, FICCI General Aviation Taskforce & Head of Airbus Helicopters, India & South Asia stated that Helicopter is the key thread of the fabric of aviation in India and mentioned that it’s an honor to start the Wings Aviation Show with the first roundtable on Helicopters.
Informing the roundtable panel about the return of commercial flights to pre-covid levels, Mr Guglani called for a ‘Vision 1000 Helicopters’ in India. Emergency rescue, Aerial work, Disaster response, and Airborne law enforcement were a few use cases that the panel discussed as critical for viewing Helicopters as a nation building tool, he added.
The Business Aviation Roundtable focused on the use of General Aviation aircraft for a business purpose. Business Aviation being a part of General Aviation focuses on the business use of airplanes and helicopters.
Mr Rohit Kapur, President of Jet HQ Asia said that business Aviation suffered during the COVID pandemic but has seen a huge demand for charter services. The demand for charter aircrafts is huge and the supply is not adequate, he said. He urged the Government to look for ways to make easy finance availability for people who want to enter the industry.
Speaking on the occasion Mr Rajan Mehra, CEO of Club One Air, said that the pandemic highlighted the importance of safety. Chartered flights, in the earlier days, were looked at as for only the rich and famous; the pandemic changed the perception. It made public realize that there is more to general aviation than as it was thought earlier. General Aviation is an enabler for economic growth, and employment generation. General Aviation has grown exponentially, he said. Further, Mr. Mehra said that people have realized that safety is more important than luxury and comfort. And that travelling charter is not as expensive as they thought it to be.
Moderator Ms Kanika Tekriwal, Co-Chair FICCI General Aviation Taskforce & Co-Founder & CEO, JetSetGo Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd India while commenting on the growth said that earlier Dubai Airport used to witness about 20 VT (Indian-registered aircrafts) landings per month, but now it is 4 VT landings per day. Ms Kanika pointed out that the pain points namely reducing owning and operating cost, rationalizing duty on engine repairs, rationalizing ground handling charges, etc. She also stated that there is no better time to be in aviation than now with a very proactive government.
Addressing the audience at the panel discussion ‘The Outlook: Aviation Financing and Leasing’, Mr. Dipesh Shah, Executive Director, International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) stated that IFSCA India can match the flourishing Aircraft leasing sector of Ireland. He also mentioned that India now hosts 15 aircraft lessors. Talking with the panel, Mr Simran Singh Tiwana, CEO, Star Air noted that though the commercial aviation load factor in India was fast approaching pre-Covid levels, the rising fuel costs is having a detrimental impact on operations. Mr Vasuki Prasad, Sales Director – APA, Embraer claimed the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) to be an effective risk reduction tool which guarantees fixed revenue to an airline, thereby making aircraft leasing more lucrative for those in the Aviation Finance and Leasing sector.
Mr Suvendu Choudhary, Managing Director of International Operations, FedEx Express explained the challenges involved in creating a sterile corridor for transportation of vaccines in the panel discussion around air cargo.
Panel discussion on ‘Making India a Global Drone Hub by 2030: Issues & Way Forward’ discussed how the perception has changed on Drones especially with the use of drones as life saving tools in the battle against Covid-19. The session examined the future of drones with emphasis on technology, infrastructure, standard/regulations, safety, privacy, collaborations, R&D and public acceptance. The utility of drones far outweighs potential risks.
The first two days of Wings India 2022 (24-27 March 2022) at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad are business days and the rest are for the general public. The four-day event will conclude on Saturday, 27 March 2022.