These are exciting times: The boom in Indian Aviation
The Indian economy juggernaut rolls on, driving the sleepy industries of the country including the aviation – both commercial and industry. The boom in commercial aviation is evident for all to see, with the Indian Railways losing their passengers to the low cost aviation carriers, and the international airlines connecting more and more Indian cities with the rest of the developed world. Orders for aircraft are being placed and ex-pat pilots continue being hired by domestic carriers to cope with the shortfall of trained pilots in the country. Though these are worrying days too, what with the airfares skyrocketing!
The aviation industry is waking up to the reality. Although presently continuing with military aircraft manufacturing, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is realigning its business strategy with proposed turbo-prop medium range 70-100 seater passenger carrier for the domestic traffic and continuing hard-sell of Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) abroad. It seems that aviation industry shall break away from its conventional captive Indian military clientele especially when high net worth individuals are owning personal aircraft or hiring air charters for their executives, air-ambulances shall become a necessity and tier 2 cities are getting connected from the regional hubs. Another development worth noticing is the Human Spaceflight Programme of the Indian Space Research Organisation, where we may witness an Indian manned mission to the Moon within the next decade. Noteworthy is the announcements of Mahindra Aerospace, Boeing-Tata joint ventures and special economic zones around Bangalore and Hyderabad offering special incentives for the nascent private participation in aerospace industry.
Writing on the wall for the Indian Military aviation is ambitious as well. The Indian Air Force is in the final stages of selection of multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA), besides awaiting induction of light combat aircraft (LCA) to strengthen its air power. Evaluation of basic flying trainers, to replace HPT-32 is also on anvil. Indian Navy awaits induction of its latest aircraft carrier, the Vikramaditya, with MiG-29 onboard, giving the nation the strategic reach in the Indian Ocean. Indian Army continues to induct ALH for multi-purpose missions. The geo-political compulsions dictate that the might of the Indian Military must not be limited to safeguarding the territorial integrity of the nation; the nation envisages a global role for itself, with Space becoming the final frontier in our strategic planning. This is more than evident with the Indian Air Force inducting IL-78 air-to-air refuellers as well as Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) to enhance its strategic reach. Still more interestingly, all the three services now routinely participate in the joint exercises both in India and abroad with the militaries of the friendly nations. A silent yet dedicated evidence of the global role for the Indian Military is the United Nations Peace Keeping Missions, which have always won the Indian contingents kudos for their contributions.
So if it is exciting times for the Indian aviation, what does it portend for the vital human resource required for this sunrise industry and how do we keep them fit and fine to work productively for a lifetime? This vital question needs to be answered…