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India lacks resources necessary for making large aircraft: Boeing official

23 June 2015

India currently lacks the capital, skills and necessary infrastructure for the manufacture of large aircraft and it may take a long time for such airplanes to be manufactured in the country, US aircraft maker Boeing has said.

While welcoming the Narendra Modi government's `Make in India' programme as an incentive for foreign investors, the $105-billion global giant said every company wanted to be associated with it because of the prime minister's personal involvement in this initiative.

Complementing the government, senior Boeing executive Dinesh Keskar said that India is on the right track although it would need to consistently develop the skill-set and other necessary requirements in order to get to a stage of making large planes, according to a PTI report.

Replying to a query on whether large airplanes like Boeing 787 can ever be made in India, Keskar, senior vice president for Asia Pacific and India sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said it needed huge investments, skill-sets and extensive infrastructure.

"That will be a long time. Even China which is way ahead in manufacturing, is still not doing it. It takes three things - a huge amount of capital, a highly skilled labour force and top-end facilities," Keskar was quoted as saying in an interview.

"Boeing bets it big every time it builds a new plane. You need billions of dollars," Keskar said on the sidelines of the Paris International Air Show, which concluded this weekend.

"You need an amazing amount of skilled labour who knows how to build different systems and integrate it all together.

"Today, there are only two companies, Boeing and Airbus, who know how to do this. Others are making smaller planes. So, money, skills and facilities are the three things we need."

Keskar said India has got the money and workforce, but no Indian firm has so far decided to do it.

"Even the smaller airplanes are not being made so far. I think, we should start with 50-seaters or 100-seaters and then look at the bigger ones. That is how it can work," he said.

Rival Airbus India managing director Srinivasan Dwarkanath also said it was very much possible for India to manufacture large planes over the years.

He pointed to the proposed replacement for the Indian Air Force's Avro aircraft fleet and said these would be "totally made in India".

"I don't see a reason why it (manufacturing of large aircraft) cannot happen in India," said Dwarkanath, who was also here for the Air Show.

Indian defence systems firm OIS chairman and managing director Sanjay Bhandari, said, "With the sustained support of the government policies, where the government looks to the private sector for advanced products and technology solutions, it should be able to manufacture, design and develop advanced technology over the foreseeable future."

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