India's ambition to become a global aerospace solutions centre has so far been stymied with delayed and cancelled projects. QuEST Global's new aerospace SEZ in Karnataka may change this scenario, says Radhakrishna Rao
Despite the battering that commercial airlines got during the global recession, aerospace remains one of the most important and dynamic sectors in the world. There have long been talks and a plethora of announcements in India about setting up aviation-orientated special economic zones (SEZs) and facilities for Maintenance and Repair Organisations (MROs). But given the perpetual land acquisition problems and other difficulties, along with the economic downturn, most of these projects were shelved or scrapped.
Now with economic recovery in sight - and especially with India growing ever larger on the aerospace map - it is high time the country gets cracking on this front. The Indian aerospace sector is growing at 10 per cent per annum, but this is far below its potential.
For instance, the much touted plan for an aerospace park at the vicinity of the new Bangalore international airport is expected to take off only late next year or in 2011. Fortunately, international aerospace majors Boeing, Honeywell, Airbus Industries and EADS have set up their own technology development and research centres around the Karnataka capital.
The opening of the country's first aerospace SEZ, near Belgaum in northern Karnataka, has therefore been widely welcomed as a first but long step in the right direction. Promoted by Bangalore-based aerospace engineering and manufacturing company QuEST Global, the facility may well make Karnataka the country's aerospace capital as well as its IT capital.
Set up with an initial investment of Rs150 crore, the SEZ already has a few contracts under its belt. Probably the most prestigious of these is to supply precision machined and sheet metal parts for the cargo doors of the much-awaited Boeing-787 Dreamliner as well as equipment for SAAB.
At the opening ceremony on 14 November, co-founder and chairman of QuEST Global Aravind Melligeri commented, ''This engagement gives us the immense pleasure as QuEST Global is among the first Indian suppliers that SAAB has been associated with. And it has plans of scaling up in future.''