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Mirage Upgradation Programme IAF Modernisation EBACE 2010 Helicopter Technology New Feature: TechWatch
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TABLE of CONTENTS
AN SP GUIDE PUBLICATION
News Flies. We Gather Intelligence. Every Month. From India.
ISSUE 5 • 2010
EBACE 2010 Back in Business
OEM Target India
ISRO Jostling for Space
The interior of A318 Elite Airbus offers plenty of freedom for individual design and the world of aircraft interior industry is booming while the world’s markets falter
HALL OF FAME
9 10 16 21 35
Airdrop Cargo Solar Impulse, Watchkeeper
FLIGHTS OF FANTASY Marcelle Nethersole writes from London on the world of aircraft interiors and ﬁnds just why this industry is booming while the world’s markets falter
A Word from Editor NewsWithViews - Tejas delayed - GSLV failure
Modernisation Flying Fast Foward Procurement A Difficult Choice UAVs Die Another Day
InFocus Mirage Jet Fighters Upgradation: Deal done
Analysis Fading Royalty
12 44 48
Forum Cost Factor NewsDigest LastWord Perform or Perish
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– Straight Up, Straight Down – Going Green
Helicopter Speeding Up
Cover Photo: Lufthansa Technik concept for A380 demonstrating luxurious interiors Photo Credit:Alan Peaford
India: Case Study of Regional Aviation Potentials
Issue 5 • 2010
TABLE of CONTENTS
PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jayant Baranwal EXECUTIVE EDITOR Subir Ghosh SENIOR VISITING EDITOR Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia SENIOR TECHNICAL GROUP EDITORS Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey Lt General (Retd) Naresh Chand
DESIGN & LAYOUT Senior Art Director: Anoop Kamath Designers: Vimlesh Kumar Yadav, Sonu Singh Bisht DIRECTOR SALES & MARKETING Neetu Dhulia SALES & MARKETING Head Vertical Sales: Rajeev Chugh Sales Manager: Rajiv Ranjan SP’S WEBSITES Sr Web Developer: Shailendra Prakash Ashish Web Developer: Ugrashen Vishwakarma © SP Guide Publications, 2010 ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION Inland: Rs 900 • Foreign: US$ 240 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org LETTER TO EDITOR email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org FOR ADVERTISING DETAILS, CONTACT: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org SP GUIDE PUBLICATIONS PVT LTD A-133 Arjun Nagar, (Opposite Defence Colony) New Delhi 110 003, India. Tel: +91 (11) 24644693, 24644763, 24620130 Fax: +91 (11) 24647093 Email: email@example.com POSTAL ADDRESS Post Box No 2525 New Delhi 110 005, India. REPRESENTATIVE OFFICE BENGALURU, INDIA 534, Jal Vayu Vihar Kammanhalli Main Road Bangalore 560043, India. Tel: +91 (80) 23682534 LONDON, UK Shikha Thukral Area Sales Manager, Europe 64 Western Road, Southall Middlesex UB2 5DX, United Kingdom Mob: +447404424208 MOSCOW, RUSSIA LAGUK Co., Ltd., (Yuri Laskin) Krasnokholmskaya, Nab., 11/15, app. 132, Moscow 115172, Russia. Tel: +7 (495) 911 2762 Fax: +7 (495) 912 1260
COPY EDITOR Sucheta Das Mohapatra ASSISTANT CORRESPONDENT Abhay Singh Thapa ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR Abhishek Singh SUB-EDITOR Bipasha Roy CONTRIBUTORS INDIA Air Marshal (Retd) N. Menon Group Captain (Retd) A.K. Sachdev Group Captain (Retd) Joseph Noronha
Flying Fast Foward
EUROPE Alan Peaford, Phil Nasskau, Rob Coppinger USA & CANADA Sushant Deb, LeRoy Cook, Lon Nordeen, Anil R. Pustam (West Indies) CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR Jayant Baranwal ADMIN & COORDINATION Bharti Sharma Survi Massey
Die Another Day
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Issue 5 • 2010
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NG DI NT? EN E SP PM RY LO ST EVE now U ND ND D ’t K nt I CE H A Don me A SP RC • com RO EA AE RES • No oll & N p IA ON s D • 2009 eSP’S AVIATION 5 he Issue 8 t IN H Y IS OUG • oin J EN
Dr. Vivek Lall Vice President, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems ‘C-17 a very good fit for India’s strategic needs’
Skydiver moves between gliders in mid-air For the Akte Blani(X) 2 project, skydiver Paul Steiner from the Red Bull Sky Dive Team and the Blanix Team complete another spectacular stunt.
A Word from Editor
After two years of negotiations, French aerospace majors Dassault and Thales and the Indian Air Force have agreed on a price for upgrading 51 Mirage 2000s. It sounds good; but like most good things, this would be costly .
he forthcoming visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be keenly watched. Among other things on the cards is the inking of the Mirage 2000 upgradation deal. After two years of negotiations, French aerospace majors Dassault and Thales and the Indian Air Force have agreed on a price for upgrading 51 Mirage 2000s. It sounds good; but like most good things, this would be costly. In all likelihood, unless the French accede to Indian wishes, the deal would be for a per unit upgradation cost in the $41-43 million range. The overall cost will come to close to $2.1-2.2 billion. It is this figure that has raised many an eyebrow. The point being debated by many defence experts is that had India gone in for a deal for 50 Mirage 2000-5s way back in 2001 itself, the cost would have been the same. The flipside of any agreement will be that India would only get an upgradation done; there would be no new aircraft. When Mirage 2000s were first drafted into the Indian Air Force in 1985, they were looked at with reverence. This faith, as Kargil 1999 proved, was not misplaced. But as time went by, the IAF felt the need for an improved version of the Mirage 2000 i.e. the Mirage 2000-5. That was in 2000. The government decided to go in for a request for information (RFI) the following year. Since then, the acquisition programme has reverted back to the upgradation of the old Mirage 2000s. The choice, most say, has been difficult. On one hand was the question of a huge amount being spent. On the other was that of the existing aircraft. As Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, Chief of Air Staff, said recently, “The residual life of the 50odd Mirages that are left is another 20 years. If I throw them away, I would have wasted 20 years of that residual life. But upgrading the Mirages with the infrastructure already available, seems a better option considering the lifetime cost.” The Air Chief has a point – India cannot be too profligate. Yet the issue that we could have acquired the same number of new aircraft for the money that we are spending in upgrading old ones, is not going to go away. This is going to remain in the news for a while, right during this run-up to the signing of the deal to probably a few weeks afterwards. This deal raises some pertinent issues – that of the exist6 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
ing systems that bring about defence deals. This is what this issue of SP’s Aviation looks at in ‘The cost factor’ (Page 12). The IAF faces another difficult choice when it seeks new aircraft for pilot training (See ‘A difficult choice, Page 21). But here, it would be a question of it being spoilt for choice. There are many aircraft in the fray, and what the IAF would need to do is choose one to its training philosophy so that it meets the requirements in the next three decades. Talking of upgradations and training would bring us to modernisation as a whole. We present an in-depth analysis (See ‘Flying Fast Forward’, Page 16) of how the Indian Air Force has embarked on acquiring new doctrinal perceptions by going through fundamental and far-reaching changes and propelling itself into being a true strategic force. And you cannot possibly miss out on ‘Flights of Fantasy’ (Page 26) which takes readers right inside the world of aircraft interiors and tells us why this industry is booming. It’s all about comfort. It’s all about style.
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
In its report tabled in the Lok Sabha recently, the Parliament’s standing committee on defence dealt with a variety of issues including delay in the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) project. The committee pointed at the “sorry state of affairs” in the project, which is to see the light of the day 27 years after being sanctioned. The panel said the various problems faced with the Tejas engine should be sorted out expeditiously. The Tejas should be commissioned either by choosing the option of importing the engine or persisting with (the indigenous) Kaveri (engine). “All steps should be taken so that Tejas is operational by the stipulated timeframe and there is no further cost escalation,” the committee maintained.
n accordance with the Long-term Re-equipment Plan drawn up in 1981, a programme to develop an LCA, incorporating a number of advanced technologies was launched two years later to replace the fleet of MiG-21s in due course. Responsibility to evolve a design for the LCA and of overall project management was entrusted to the newly created Aeronautical Development Agency. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was to be the manufacturing agency. Although technical assistance was sought from Israel and France, there was no formal arrangement for collaboration with any global aerospace major. Hope for US assistance was dashed by a sanctions regime. In 1986, as a project on parallel track, development of aero engine GTX-35VS Kaveri to power LCA prototypes was initiated under the Gas Turbine Research Establishment. There was no comprehensive foreign collaboration. It is indeed a cause for deep disappointment for the IAF that despite the staggering levels of investment, even after nearly three decades, timeframe for induction of the LCA into operational service remains somewhat uncertain. Development of the Kaveri engine appears to have reached a dead end and the two projects were formally delinked in 2008 necessitating search for a new engine for the production models of the Tejas. While the LCA, christened Tejas, has been undergoing developmental flights with the underpowered GE 404 engine, there are three options for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the selection of an engine that would meet the qualitative requirements stipulated by the IAF for the power plant. These include identifying an engine already available in the market, developing an entirely new engine, or going ahead with development of the Kaveri. However, each option is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. There are engines with
the requisite thrust rating available in the market, but are oversized. Such an engine would need redesign of the fuselage, air intake, wings, etc, of the LCA. This would tantamount to practically developing a new airplane requiring repeat of some, if not all the developmental flights completed so far. All these would ultimately translate into interminable delay. Development of a new engine even with foreign collaboration may take years because of rapid advances in technology, and complexity of the process. So, time and cost overruns in such cases do happen. It took Snecma, one of the leading manufacturers of aero engines, 13 years to develop the M88 for the Rafale. Of late, the Airbus A400M and the Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation combat aircraft projects have suffered considerable slippages and cost escalation owing to major glitches in the engine development programmes. As for the third option of further development of the Kaveri, possibility of any significant performance upgradation appears remote as the technology employed is more than a quarter century old and is virtually obsolete. Whatever the final decision, it is clear that without collaboration with one of the world’s leading aero engine manufacturers, an indigenous power plant for the Tejas may be a fading dream. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. On April 23, 2010, in a 52-minute sortie, the Tejas for the first time flew with all required equipment on board in a near final configuration. Although this latest milestone may help partially alleviate the concerns of the government as reflected in the report by the parliamentary committee, given the imponderables in the development of new generation combat aircraft and experience with the Tejas programme so far, controlling costs may not be easy. SP —Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 7
Disaster struck the Indian space programme on April 15 when the largest rocket using a home-made cryogenic propulsion system failed after being in flight for close to five minutes. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle—as tall as a 17-storey building—took off at 4.27 pm, leaving a trail of fire and smoke in the clear evening sky at the launch site at Sriharikota on India’s eastern seaboard. There was joy for a while as the first two stages of the rocket worked as planned. But within seconds, gloom descended on the control room as the crucial third stage—the cryogenic engine—did not ignite.
he failure of the launch of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-D3 with India’s first cryogenic engine and the GSAT-4 communications and navigation satellite payload, has disappointed not only scientists and engineers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) but also the entire nation. It was evident that the first two liquid propellant stages had worked flawlessly after a perfect lift-off the GSLV had stuck to its flight path, both in time and space. The problem occurred after 300 seconds when the vehicle started to decelerate and deviate from its assigned flight path. The initial reaction of ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan was that the two Vernier engines had failed to function even though the main cryogenic engine had ignited. But later, he accepted that the first flight of the cryogenic engine had failed. The failure was unexpected because the engine, in the making for years had been tested to the best of technological satisfaction. The ‘cryo’ stage was required to work in space for only 720 seconds but had been tested successfully on the ground for up to 1,000 seconds. It was not tested in weightless conditions but this may not have been possible and perhaps was not even needed. Cryogenic propulsion is a highly complex and strategic technology. It makes the launch vehicle ‘icy hot’ because when the lower stages of the rocket are igniting with temperatures reaching 3,000 degree celsius and more, the upper cryogenic stage remains super cool at 250 degree celsius and less. This stage with super cooled liquid hydrogen and oxygen is much more efficient and provides more thrust for every kg of propellant it burns compared to others. This permits space agencies to launch heavier payloads with the same overall weight of the launch vehicle. Therefore, the technology is a heavily guarded secret. Cryogenic propulsion
8 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
has been on the agenda of ISRO for almost two decades now. Cutting no ice with the US firms in early 1990s, India had approached Russia to supply the cryogenic engines and transfer the technology. Initially, this attempt was torpedoed under US pressure, but later on Russians did supply cryogenic engines and the first flight of the GSLV using Russian ‘cryo’ stage took place in 2001. But what the Russians promised in 1992, in terms of transfer of technology based on their 11D56 cryogenic engine and what was later supplied, differed vastly. The Russian cryogenic stages are highly complicated compared to engines developed by other countries. Any effort based on the Russian design is bound to be more vulnerable to failure at least in the initial stages till the design, materials and engineering is mastered to perfection. That brings us back to the April 15 GSLV failure. There have been conflicting reports as to what exactly went wrong with the GSLV-3 plunging into the Bay of Bengal minutes after lift-off with its precious, and now questionable, Rs 150 crore payload. The data collected so far has led some to believe that the indigenous ‘cryo’ stage had actually ignited, but just for a second or two, as the turbine fuel pump supplying the fuel to the engine failed causing an immediate shutdown. The entire data would have to be analysed for which ISRO has constituted a Failure Analysis Committee which would submit its report by next month-end. ISRO must be given due credit for being an organisation that is neither demoralised nor deterred by its failures. However, for future applications, it would be better if ISRO could tap NASA’s expertise under the umbrella of a vastly improved relationship with the US, which is known to be working on an advanced version of cryogenic propulsion for its future manned lunar missions. But would the US oblige? SP —Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia
Lockheed Martin and Kaman have successfully transformed power lifter into an unmanned aircraft system for autonomous cargo delivery operations
PHOTOGRAPH: LOCKHEED MARTIN
n tests conducted recently, Kaman Aerospace Corporation has proved that the unmanned K-MAX helicopter can resupply troops with cargo airdropped by parachute. The tests added a new delivery method for the 6,000 lb power lifter, which Lockheed Martin and Kaman have successfully transformed into an unmanned aircraft system for autonomous cargo delivery operations. At its Bloomfield, Connecticut facility, Kaman, in partnership with the US Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre (NSRDEC) conducted 11 cargo airdrop tests from 300 ft to 400 ft above ground level. Kaman used its four-hook carousel for the drops, and during one flight, demonstrated four airdrops in a single mission. Kaman performed the airdrops using the Army’s low cost low altitude cross parachute, a one-time-use expendable aerodynamic decelerator that costs about $375 (Rs 16,929). Currently used to airdrop supplies from manned aircraft in Afghanistan, the parachute is designed to handle 80-600 lb payloads delivered from 150-300 ft altitudes above ground level. In January, Kaman and Lockheed Martin had successfully demonstrated to the US Marine Corps at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah the capability of the unmanned K-MAX helicopter to resupply troops by unmanned helicopter at forward operating bases in Afghanistan. During the demonstration, the team showed autonomous and remote control sling load delivery over both line-of-sight and satellite-base beyond-line-of-sight data links. According to the company, future tests may include the use of single and/or multiple joint precision airdrop systems (JPADS) from higher altitudes. JPADS could be used in higher threat environments to resupply multiple and dispersed ground forces from one unmanned K-MAX release point. Kaman designed the K-MAX helicopter to deliver sling loads up to 6,000 lb at sea level and 4,300 lb at 15,000 ft. Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems gives the K-MAX helicopter unparalleled flight autonomy in remote environments and over large distances. SP —SP’s Aviation News Desk E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and video, visit: www.spsaviation.net
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 9
...applying new technologies to save nature
housands of spectators from all over Switzerland viewed the Solar Impulse HB-SIA slowly climb up to 1200 metres on April 7, 2010. The next 87 minutes Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel spent familiarising himself with the prototype’s flight behaviour and performing the initial flight exercises before making the first landing on the Vaudois tarmac. The execution of these various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) was designed to get a feel for the aircraft and verify its controllability. According to the company, the first mission was the most risky phase of the entire project and culminated after seven years of research, testing and perseverance. Never has an airplane as large and light ever flown before. The aim was to verify the prototype’s behaviour in flight and test its reaction to various manoeuvres. Bertrand Piccard, Chairman, Solar Impulse said, “We still have a long way to go until the night flights and an even longer way before flying round the world, but today, thanks to the extraordinary work of an entire team, an essential step towards achieving our vision has been taken. Our future depends on our ability to convert rapidly to the use of renewable energies. Solar Impulse is intended to demonstrate what can be done already by using these energies and apply-
ing new technologies that can save natural resources.” SP —SP’s Aviation News Desk
For related video, visit: www.spsaviation.net
... ﬁrst UK ﬂight
PHOTOGRAPHS: SOLAR IMPULSE & THALES
hales unmanned air system (UAS) flew for the first time in UK on April 14. The Watchkeeper took off from dedicated facilities at Parc Aberporth in West Wales for a 20 minute flight. The Parc Aberporth facilities, managed by QinetiQ through the West Wales unmanned air vehicle (UAV) Centre, are the premier test facilities for UAVs in the UK. The success of the first flight was attributed to the combined efforts of the integrated Thales UK and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). It was the first milestone in a long-term programme to demonstrate that the Watchkeeper system meets the robust safety and airworthiness criteria required to fly UAVs initially on ranges and segregated airspace in the UK. The Watchkeeper system provides enhanced capability that will enable commanders to detect and track targets for many hours without the need to deploy troops into potentially
10 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
sensitive or dangerous areas. The system is capable of rapid deployment and operations anywhere in the world and will support the information requirements of all three services. According to the company, the first flight was a momentous accomplishment in the Watchkeeper programme and many more flight trials is scheduled to take place over the coming months. The company further informed that 2010 is an important year for the programme as it will also see the opening of the Watchkeeper training facility based in Larkhill and the continuation of the technical field trials at Parc Aberporth. SP —SP’s Aviation News Desk E-mail your comments to: email@example.com
Mirage Jet Fighters Upgradation: Deal done
What was hanging ﬁre for the last two years due to issues related to price negotiations between the two sides seems to have been resolved with India ﬁnalising a Rs 10,000 crore deal with France
Rafale, which at the time was still under development. The upgraded aircraft were redesignated Mirage 2000-5, and became operational in 2000. And while the Rafale has become operational in the French Air Force, it is considering further upgrades for the type, at least for the aircraft with sufficient residual operational life to Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2 standards. In response to the initial request for information (RFI) issued in 2001 for the ambitious 126-aircraft MMRCA programme, the French manufacturer offered Mirage 2000-5 to compete with the Russian Mikoyan MiG-35, the US Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Swedish SAAB JAS39 Gripen aircraft. The undue delays in progressing the programme to the next stage from the Indian side and the fact that two more heavy-weight contenders, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet from the US and EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, had joined the competition, it prompted Dassault to replace the Mirage 2000-5 with its own state-of-the-art twin-engine Rafale jet fighter by citing its inability to keep the Mirage 2000 assembly line open for an indefinite length of time. While the full details of the upgradation programme are not available, it is quite probable that the upgraded Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF would be brought up to the Mirage 2000-5 standards, or, as close to it as possible. At the time of the launch of the RFI for the MMRCA deal in 2001, the French were optimistic that the IAF, which was highly satisfied with its Mirage 2000 fleet, would naturally opt for the later and much improved version, i.e. Mirage 2000-5. As events turned out, however, this did not happen. Dassault, it appears, were quick in appreciating the situation by withdrawing the Mirage 2000-5 offer and replacing it with the Rafale. And now, while the MMRCA project is still lumbering through the flight evaluation stage, the French seem to have already got a slice of the bigger pie by bagging the none too inconsiderable $2 billion+ Mirage 2000 upgrade deal, while continuing to compete in the main MMRCA deal with Rafale. The big question is what can the IAF expect to get from the deal and what effect it would have on the Indo-French relations? Turn to Forum for some probable answers. SP —By Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 11
t appears to be official now. What was hanging fire for the last two years due to issues related to price negotiations between the two sides seems to have been resolved. India finalised a Rs 10,000 crore ($2.1-2.2 billion) deal with France in the first week of April to upgrade the Indian Air Force (IAF’s) fleet of Mirage 2000 jet fighters. The deal had been stuck for the past two years primarily due to differences over the price being offered by French OEM Dassault and Thales. After going through the detailed list provided by the Indian side for the fighter’s upgradation, the French companies had initially quoted an exorbitant price close to $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore). This amounted to about $58 million (Rs 26 crore) per aircraft, which was coming close to the price of a brand new fighter jet of that caliber. With the final price arrived at through not only hard negotiations, but also through carefully timed nudges at the highest political quarters, per unit cost to upgrade 51 aircraft is still coming to a hefty $43 million (Rs 190 crore). However, the Indian government has decided to ink the deal in view of the fact that the upgradation is crucial for the IAF which is battling with ageing fleets and diminishing numbers in its combat force levels. First inducted in 1985, the IAF had acquired a total of 51 aircraft (41 single-seat fighters and 10 twin-seat trainers) by 1988. At the time of the 1999 Kargil conflict, Mirage 2000, also known as the Vajra (Thunderbolt) was the frontline fighter of the IAF. The IAF went on to acquire an additional 10 aircraft in 2004 with somewhat improved avionics such as the RDM-7 radar, but the bulk of its Mirage fleet was indeed in need of a midlife upgrade. French manufacturer Dassault and its associated partners in the Mirage 2000 programme have continued to keep the aircraft on par with the latest models of the US F-16 fighters. By the late 1980s, Thomson-CSF had already begun work on a privately funded update of the Mirage 2000C to be renamed Mirage 2000-5, which first flew on October 24, 1990. The French Air Force had by 1993 decided to upgrade a major portion of its Mirage 2000 fleet to the 2000-5 specification as a stopgap arrangement before the induction of the
PHOTOGRAPH: SP GUIDE PUBNS
It would be hazardous to offhand put a ﬁgure on what would actually be the cost of an aircraft such as a Mirage 2000 or a Mirage 2000-5. It would entail an in depth study and multi-fold analysis of various factors before a reasonably accurate ﬁgure can be arrived at.
PHOTOGRAPHS: SP GUIDE PUBNS
here is a general belief in defence circles that putting a definite price to any defence equipment and more so in the case of combat aircraft, is well nigh impossible; given the plethora of issues involved— visible and hidden—when working out the cost of the entire package, finally known as the “fully operational weapon system”. The myriad factors not only involve the plain and simple unit fly-away cost but also include training and maintenance costs, spares support, cost of weapons, operational costs, lifecycle costs, manpower costs, expenditures involved with transfer of technology (ToT), et al. It would therefore be extremely hazardous to indulge in an offhand manner to put a figure on what would actually be the cost of an aircraft such as a Mirage 2000 or for that matter, a Mirage 2000-5. Needless to say, it would entail an in depth study and multi-fold analysis of various factors before a reasonably accurate figure could be arrived at. Notwithstanding the above, it is interesting to note that the unit cost of the Mirage 2000 in—Wikipedia is still being shown as $23 million (Rs 25 crore), perhaps its initial flyaway cost, stuck in the sands of time. But at $23 million (Rs 110 crore) in 1985—the year Mirage 2000 was first inducted into the IAF—it was looked at with awe and reverence by the fraternity of young fighter pilots, as at the time,
12 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
Air Marshal (Retd) Ajit Bavnani This is a long pending requirement of the IAF, as the need for upgradation of the Mirage fleet was felt as early as 2001-02. The Mirage 2000 fleet, even today after 25 years of operational service in the IAF, continues to be the most reliable and efficient fleet. After the Kargil operations, the IAF had bid for 126 additional Mirage 2000 aircraft, as these had proved to be very successful during these operations. However, the request of the IAF had been changed into a global tender, and the IAF is yet to contract for these additional aircraft. The overall cost of upgradation of 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft has been arrived at $2.2 – $2.5 billion. This figure is indeed high. However, it should be considered in view of the fact that the upgradation will transform the fleet into a near fourth generation fighter and would also extend its life substantially. Just as aircraft such as F-16, MIG-29 have been upgraded and brought to
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Shashindra Pal Tyagi The Mirage 2000 fleet was acquired through a government-to-government deal with France 25 years ago in 1985. The lifecycle of an aircraft is 35-40 years, depending on the rate of utilisation. As the aircraft becomes old, it starts developing problems and needs upgradation. The upgradation programme of Mirage 2000 was conceptualised in 1993 and thus began the routine enquiry process about the cost and efficiency factors. Meanwhile, the Israelis showed interest in its upgradation, but the French refused to part with the design data required for the upgradation programme. The French already have experience in upgradation and are a part of the Greek Air Force upgradation programme. Though the media has been reporting that it is an expensive deal, I feel, at this point, we do not have much choice. What looks less expensive on paper need not actually be so. The deal was closed after Indian Air Force examined the pros and cons properly. The system is a proven one, not a new integration. Experience and reliability factor has to be taken into consideration.We have a comfort level with the Franch. Sometimes it makes sense to go for an expensive model. We need a fleet which can fight efficiently. The upgradation will make the Mirage 2000 efficient. It seems the upgradation programme will not take much long, as it is already available. It has also been adopted by the air force, of other countries and is hence proven.
modern standards, the upgradation of Mirage 2000 would also usher in state-of-the-art technologies with modern radar, weapons and electronic warfare capability. The aircraft has stood the test of time and would post- upgradation improve its lethality and effectiveness considerably. Hence, the upgradation project is considered operationally beneficial to the IAF. There is, however, the time factor for the programme, which is learnt to be inordinately long. This is one area where the IAF should lay down the liquidated damages (LD) clause in order to ensure that there will be no additional time overruns. France has always provided support to India at a geo-strategic and political level. All French military hardware bought by India has proved to be of high quality, consistently dependable and reliable. Although the cost factor of French military equipment remains high, the exceptional reliability factor indeed makes it highly cost effective. India and France have maintained close relations since India’s independence. Military equipment from France has been forthcoming. This deal for upgradation of IAF’s Mirage 2000 fleet will certainly strengthen and extend the good strategic relations between the two nations.
it was not only the most expensive aircraft in the service’s inventory, but also the most capable. With some quickfire modifications carried out indigenously during the 1999 Kargil operations, the aircraft proved its worth in precisionstrike role as well, with devastating effect on the enemy’s morale. So impressed was the IAF with the multi-role capabilities of the Mirage 2000 that it went ahead to acquire 10 additional aircraft to form a third squadron. Today, No.1, 7 and 9 squadrons in the IAF are equipped with Mirage 2000 jet fighters. Not only that, the IAF clearly favoured acquisition of the improved version of the Mirage 2000; namely, Mirage 2000-5 at the conception stage of the MMRCA deal, but finally, it was decided to go in for an international competition by issuing an request for information (RFI) which, as brought out earlier, also included Mirage 2000-5. The RFI was issued in the year 2001. Nine years later, the entire gamut of IAF’s acquisition programme appears to have gone through a full circle, as far as its initial interest in Mirage 2000-5 is concerned; but with a big difference. The Mirage 2000 upgradation deal is likely to be formally inked during French President Sarkozy’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi. After two years of negotiations, French Aerospace major Thales and the IAF appear to have been able to agree on a price for outfitting India’s 51 Mirage 2000s
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 13
with new radars, avionics, electronic warfare systems and onboard computers. As stated recently by the IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, a French team is expected to arrive from Paris ahead of Sarkozy’s visit to carry out the final commercial negotiations; it is likely the deal would be concluded for a unit upgradation cost in the $41-43 million (Rs 18-19 crore) range. With this kind of a price tag, the IAF in all probability would have acquired close to 50 Mirage 2000-5s, had it gone for the deal in 2001. The big difference is that now it would get only the upgradation done and not the entire aircraft. Be as it may, there is no denying the fact that after 25 years of operational service, the IAF Mirages are certainly in need of mid-life upgradation. Air Chief Marshal Naik was reported to have said at a recent press conference that upgrading the old Mirages was a better option than buying new fighter planes. This may not have been exactly what the Air Chief had in mind when he made the above statement and should be interpreted correctly in light of what he said subsequently in the same conference. He explained that when you buy an (fighter) aircraft, it is not only the aircraft that you buy, you spend money in training people, erecting infrastructure, logistics, spares supply and lifetime support. “The residual life of the 50 odd Mirages that are left is another 20 years. If I throw them away, I have wasted 20 years of that residual life. But upgrading the Mirages with the infrastructure already available, seems a better option, considering the lifetime cost,” he added. The IAF has therefore taken the right step to upgrade the already capable Mirage 2000, but in the process, it also seems to have set its sights high to bring the aircraft as close to the new fourth generation combat aircraft that it now wishes to acquire—to maintain the fleet’s relevance throughout its residual life in the modern and emerging network-centric warfare scenario. However, while the IAF had reportedly given a detailed list of capabilities to be upgraded to the concerned companies, mainly in the area of avionics and weapon systems, they were totally taken aback by the $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) price quoted initially by France for the upgradation programme. This amounted to about $58 million (Rs 200 crore) per aircraft, which the IAF argued, was almost the price of a brand new fourth generation jet fighter in the global market. Little wonder then, the deal had been stuck for the past two years, primarily due to differences over price being demanded by the French manufacturers Dassault and Thales. In the revised deal too, as stated earlier, the cost per aircraft is amounting to $43 million (Rs 190 crore), which according to experts is still high—almost double the $23 million (Rs 110 crore) (though unauthentic and not to be taken seriously) price still being quoted in the Mirage 2000 entry in Wikipedia. It is hoped that with the kind of price tag attached to the upgradation programme, the concerned French companies concerned would bring up the IAF’s aircraft to Mirage 20005 Mark 2 standards with matching weapon systems to give the aircraft true fourth generation capabilities. In its Mark 2 version, Dassault has vastly improved the Mirage 20005, which was earlier being offered to India in response to the 2001 RFI for the MMRCA programme. At the heart of the Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2, is the newer, stealthier Thales RDY-2 all-weather, synthetic aperture radar with moving
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If the IAF gets the undiluted Mark 2 version of the Mirage 2000-5 in its upgrade programme, only then the steep price of the upgradation programme could be justiﬁed
target indicator capability and ability to detect 24 targets simultaneously while tracking eight, which also gives the aircraft improved air-to-ground capability. In the Mark 2, the avionics have been further updated with higher resolution colour displays including topsight helmet-mounted display and the addition of the Modular Data Processing Unit (MDPU) which incidentally is designed for the Rafale. A new Thales Totem 3000 inertial navigation system with ring-laser gyroscope and GPS capability has been added in the latest version, providing much greater accuracy, higher reliability and shorter alignment time, replacing the older ULISS 52 navigation system. The other upgradations in the Mark 2 version are the provision of an on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS) for the pilot and an ICMS digital counter-measures suite. Further upgradations include Thales AIDA visual identification pod, a GPS receiver, MIDS data link and new long-range sensors. Some more technologies developed for the Rafale are also slated for integration into the ‘Dash-5’, including infrared and optical sensors for IFF and targeting. Hopefully, the full package will be available to the IAF. The MBDA is also reportedly pitching in by providing AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) capability. In the event, the IAF aircraft could be the first Mirage aircraft to carry the British missile with Dassault, Thales and MBDA participating in the effort. It is also hoped that in the final negotiations before inking the deal, per unit price of upgradation would further drift down towards the $41 million (Rs 180 crore) mark. On the geo-political front, the deal will strengthen Indo-French ties which had taken a jolt recently, given the bad blood over the cancellation of the $2 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) in-flight Refuelling tanker deal in which the European Airbus A330 MRTT had been shortlisted and the earlier abruptly dropped utility helicopter deal in which the Eurocopter AS550 C3 Fennec had been selected. If the deal finally gets inked during French President Sarkozy’s soon to be undertaken visit to India and the programme moves without any stumbling blocks along the way, the first lot of upgraded Mirages could come back for operational service within the next 2-3 years, giving the IAF the first taste of fourth generation jet fighter capability, even before the MMRCA programme fructifies. SP —Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia
Straight Up, Straight Down
An electric ducted quadrotor vertical take-off and landing UAV
Specifications Endurance Payload Take Off Weight Airspeed Climb Rate Descent Rate Altitude Range Noise Time to deploy Dimensions Maximum 40 min 1.5 kg 3 kg 70 km/h 10 m/s 4 m/s 1 km (video link) 1 km (video link) 65dBA @ 3m 1 min 530 x 530 x 160mm Nominal 25 min 500 g 2 kg 50 km/h 5 m/s 2 m/s 120 m (CASA101) 500m Inaudible > 30m 10 seconds
he Cyber Quad is an electric ducted quadrotor vertical take-0ff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Cyber Quad is a unique amalgamation of stateof-the-art VTOL UAV technologies, combining mechanical simplicity, low noise, stability and agility of a quadrotor, with the compactness, safety and efficiency of ducted fans. With only four moving parts that are safely shrouded, the Cyber Quad is easily transportable and rapidly deployable and involves low maintenance cost. The Cyber Quad employs direct drive brushless electric motors, avoiding the inefficiencies, maintenance and noise of gearboxes and internal combustion engines. By running relatively low speed rotors with the tips aero-dynamically entrained by the duct wall, BVI noise and tip losses are significantly reduced. These features contribute to the Cyber Quad having a very low noise signature for stealth applications. Cyber Quad does not employ any complicated, inefficient control surfaces, swash plates, stabiliser bars or tail rotors for control and does not pay any additional weight or power penalty for control as it differentially controls the four modular fans that are already being employed to create lift. SP —SP’s Aviation News Desk
E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The US Navy celebrated Earth Day by showcasing a ﬂight test of the Green Hornet
PHOTOGRAPHS: AT-COMMUNICATION & US NAVY
he US Navy celebrated Earth Day on April 22 by showcasing a flight test of the Green Hornet, an F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet powered by a biofuel blend. The test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River drew a huge crowd. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has made the exploration and adoption of alternative fuels a priority for the Navy and Marine Corps, was also present. The Green Hornet runs on a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel and a biofuel that comes from camelina, a hardy USgrown plant that can thrive even in difficult soil. The flight tests are part of an extensive test and evaluation process. The fuel’s chemical and physical properties were first analysed in the lab, followed by component and engine performance testing. The final approval and certification for the
camelina-based biofuel could take an additional 6-9 months. The Earth Day flight test is one of the 15 planned test flights requiring approximately 23 flighthours to complete, starting in mid-April 2010 and ending by mid-June 2010. The Earth Day flight lasted about 45 minutes. This biofuel programme is the first aviation test programme to evaluate the performance of a 50/50 biofuel blend in supersonic operations—a critical test point to successfully clear the F/A-18 E/F for biofuel operations. SP —SP’s Aviation News Desk E-mail your comments to: email@example.com
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 15
Flying FAST Foward
The IAF has seriously embarked upon acquiring new doctrinal perceptions by going through fundamental and far-reaching changes and propelling itself into a new realm—of being a true strategic force like other leading air forces in the world
PHOTOGRAPHS: SUKHOI, IAF & ABHISHEK / SP GUIDE PUBNS
aving unshackled itself is generally known that the IAF’s jet By Air Marshal (Retd) from the decade old fighter strength has shrunk to less than V.K. Bhatia mindset prevailing in 30 squadrons and may have reached a the mid-1990s of below of 27 squadrons. Similarly, for the ing just a ‘tactical force’ defence of vital areas/points, its existing with a mandate to prisurface-to-air missile (SAM) squadrons marily provide support to the other two Services, the Indi- have long crossed the obsolescence thresholds and canan Air Force (IAF) seriously embarked upon acquiring new not be stretched much further. doctrinal perceptions by going through fundamental and far- The latest reports indicate reaching changes and propelling itself into a new realm—that that almost one-third of of being a true strategic force like other leading air forces in Pechora SAM squadthe world. Coinciding with the above, India’s emergence as the new economic power house on the world stage and the everevolving geo-political and security scenarios also influenced the IAF’s perceptions of its new roles and responsibilities. The force today accepts the necessity to acquire rons may have actually been numberplated. This has caused serious erosion in the IAF’s ground-based air defence capability. While not in dire straits, in other fleets too, the IAF is facing moderate to heavy deficiencies. Stung by such largescale deficiencies and riding on much greater budgetary support from the government, the IAF has embarked on a series of modernisation programmes to restore and improve its operational FUTURE PROGRAMME: FIRST capabilities. Some major ongoing FLIGHT OF PAK-FA acquisition programmes, upgradation and future acquisition programmes of the comprehensive capabilities characterised winged fleets are discussed below. by flexibility, quick response, mobility and transportability of all forms of national power as well as long reach and all- FIGHTER FORCE weather precision strike with minimal collateral damage—all attributes of a modern air force. Ongoing Programmes Tragically, however, while the IAF stands metamorphosed Su-30 MKI: Leading the pack, the Su-30 programme which in its thinking, in its force levels and other combat equipment it commenced in 1996 has truly matured into a full-fledged Suis staring at cataclysmic reductions which has seriously eroded 30 MKI project with the IAF progressively inducting more of its capability to discharge its ever-increasing responsibilities. these aircraft in an attempt to arrest any further downslide For example, contrary to its official position on the subject, it in its combat squadrons’ strength. Evolved from the earlier
16 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010 www.spsaviation.net
The Apache Longbow deters aggression like no other helicopter. With its totally integrated command, control and communication systems and unique payload versatility, the Apache delivers superior performance across the entire spectrum of missions — in adverse weather, day or night. It’s the most advanced, most effective combat helicopter. A proven force for keeping the peace.
model Su-30K, the development of the variant started after India signed a deal with Russia in 2000 to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets. The first Russian-made Su-30MKI variant was integrated into the IAF in 2002, while the first indigenous Su-30MKI entered service with the IAF in 2004. In 2007, the IAF ordered 40 additional MKIs. As of March 2010, the IAF has 130 MKIs under active service and may be planning to have an operational fleet of 280 MKIs by 2015 with an additional order for 50 aircraft. As the aircraft is now being produced indigenously by HAL, the numbers could go up further as required. Light combat aircraft: The much touted but painfully delayed indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas is continuing on its tortuous path of development with IAF having ordered the first lot of 20 to be fitted with the US GE F-404 engine and in all probability the Israeli EL/M-2052 Multimode Radar (MMR). The delivery schedule into the already assigned No.45 Squadron is reported to be–four aircraft in 2011, eight in 2012 and balance eight in 2013. Reports suggest another IAF order for 20 more aircraft with the same power plant configuration. An upgraded Mk2 version of the Tejas is to be developed with either F-414 or Eurojet engine with the IAF eventually acquiring 200 plus units to replace its remaining MiG-21s and MiG-27 aircraft. Medium multi-role combat aircraft: The flight evaluation trials of the $10 billion+ (Rs 50,000 crore), 126-aircraft medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) programme dragged on to such an extent as to call for rebidding as per the contract rules. The vendors were expected to complete the flight trials by early April for the Indian defence ministry to complete its evaluation by the end of the month. However, that did not happen with the flight trials extending to May. This has forced the ministry to act under its own 2006 procurement procedures in extending bids by a year, which in turn, allows the vendors to revise the bids up or down. While a year’s delay should normally drive the costs up by 5-7 per cent, the volatility factor is a cause of concern for the vendors. In view of the present-day global economic uncertainties and the resulting fluctuations in inter-currency relationships, the volatility factor can take ominous proportions. While the IAF does not seem to be unduly worried, as at present, it is more focused on the competing aircrafts’ operational capabilities, it needs to be appreciated that in the long run, delays are inevitably going to raise the programme’s costs and prevent in service induction of the winning aircraft on schedule. Future Programmes Fifth generation fighter aircraft: India is well entrenched now in an Indo-Russian joint venture to co-develop and coproduce the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) called the Prospective Aircraft Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK-FA) by the Russians. Although exact specifications are not yet known, with an empty weight of close to 20 tonnes, PAK-FA is likely to be of same size as the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This will be the first Russian fighter to have stealth features. Capable of Mach 2 max speed, the aircraft will have super-cruise capability and extremely high manoeverability, credit to vectored thrust, and will be equipped with the Russian AESA radar. The first flight of the prototype took place on January this year and the development programme is well under way. The IAF has opted for the twin-seat version as its main combat aircraft with plans to induct up to 10 squadrons of the type. Reports suggest
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that as the Su-30 MKI production begins to taper off, production of the PAK-FA could start by HAL during the later part of the current decade. Advanced medium combat aircraft: In addition, India is keen to build as a follow up to the LCA, an indigenous fifth generation fighter of its own, called the medium combat aircraft (MCA) or advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA). The aircraft will complement the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA, the Su-30 MKI and the as yet undecided MRCA in the IAF. It is believed that unofficial design work on the MCA has already started. Upgradation Programmes The IAF had launched a very ambitious midlife upgradation programme for practically all its fleets to not only improve their respective operational capabilities but also to extend their service life to around 40 years. Some meaningful upgradations have already been completed on its MiG-21Bis (called the Bison), MiG-27 and Jaguar fleets. Next in the line are the MiG-29 and Mirage 2000 fleets for which the necessary contracts have been concluded with the respective Russian and French OEMs. The IAF has awarded a $960 million (Rs 4,000 crore) contract to the Russians to upgrade all of its 69 operational MiG-29s.
ONGOING: (TOP) SU-30MKI; (BOTTOM) TEJAS; (OPPOSITE PAGE TOP) C-130J; (BOTTOM) AN-32
These upgradations will include a new avionics fit, with the N-109 radar being replaced by Phazatron Zhuk-M radar. The aircraft is also being equipped to enhance beyond visual range (BVR) combat capability and for in flight refuelling to increase range/endurance. A new weapon control system, cockpit ergonomics, high-accuracy air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and smart aerial bombs are also part of the upgrade package. The first six aircraft are being upgraded in Russia while the remaining 63 will be upgraded at the HAL’s Nashik facility in India. Israel has been awarded contracts to provide avionics and sub-systems for the upgradation. The upgradation programme at a whopping $2.1-2.2 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) for the 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF is even more ambitious and grandiose in scale. The pros and cons of the upgradation programme have been discussed in great detail in this edition’s In Focus and Forum columns. The latest information suggests that the IAF may have settled for the RDY-3 radar citing its adequacy to meet IAF’s operational needs, but essentially to keep the costs under control.
ARMED UAVS FOR THE IAF Since the beginning of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), more than 100 attacks by the armed UAV (Predator/Reaper) have been carried out by the coalition forces in the Af-Pak region. Some of these UAVs have been deployed on Pakistani soil. Pakistan on its part wants to acquire the armed UAVs for itself and has left no stones unturned to continue to persuade the US for the supply of the armed drones. India sensing the possibility of an eventual transfer of a few of these UAVs to the Pakistan armed forces and the resulting implications to its own security, has started to scout for acquiring similar capabilities for itself. In the past, the IAF had acquired the Harpy armed aerial vehicle from Israel which can be used for SEAD missions against an adversary. It has now embarked upon acquiring another similar system called the Harop from the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) which can be used against a variety of high-value targets with pin-point accuracy. Unlike the Harpy which is a ‘fire and forget’ system to operate in a pre-planned autonomous mode, each Harop system comprises transportable launchers and a mission control shelter that provides a man-in-the-loop function to approve engagements or abort attacks in real time to avoid collateral damage. The system can be used across a range of scenarios, from low to high-intensity conflicts, urban warfare and counter-terror operations. But both the systems cannot qualify to be in the category of armed UAVs, as they are single-shot vehicles which cannot be recovered after launch for repeated use—more in the category of flying munitions. What the IAF should aim for is the armed UAV of the medium altitude long endurance (MALE) category something like the US Predator/Reaper class. The IAF is already operating the Israeli Heron UAV in the MALE category. It could explore the possibility of arming the Heron with compatible PGM(s) and convert it into an armed UAV. The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is also developing a MALE UAV called the Rustam. The IAF could include the provision for carrying PGMs as part of its air staff requirements (ASR) for the indigenous Rustam. If successful, India would get armed UAVs of its own and join a select group of nations with such capability. •
Ongoing Programmes C-130J: By the end of this year, the IAF will begin receiving the first of the six C-130J Super Hercules acquired through an Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route from Lockheed Mar-
tin of the US at a price of $1billion (Rs 4,500 crore). The sixth aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2011. The IAF has option to purchase another six possibly the MC-130J version, some of which could be modified as flight refuelling aircraft to service both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. With multi-role capability and designed to operate from short runways, even from unprepared strips, the fleet of specially modified C-130J aircraft would significantly upgrade the nation’s capability to undertake special operations. Equipped with specialised equipment, the C-130J is capable of navigating over long distances at low level in total darkness, air drop men and material or land on unlit runways. C-17: With the aim to enhance strategic airlift capability, in 2009, the IAF decided to acquire 10 C-17 Globemaster III from Boeing. The C-17 can lift 77 tonnes and can take off from a 7,000 ft runway. Without in-flight refuelling, it has a range of 2,400 nautical miles and can land on a runway of 3,000 ft length. A proven workhorse, the C-17 would replace/complement the ageing fleet of IL-76 aircraft and give the IAF a completely new strategic reach. In the evolving strategic scenario in the region and India’s emerging status as a regional power, the IAF would be called upon to undertake a variety of tasks well beyond its national borders both in war and peace.
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 19
ONGOING PROGRAMMES & FUTURE ACQUISITIONS: (ABOVE) ALH; (RIGHT) MI-17 HELICOPTER
Future Programmes Medium multirole aircraft: The programme to develop the Medium multirole aircraft (MTA) designated as the Ilyushin 214, a transport aircraft for both military and civilian use to replace their ageing fleets of cargo carriers was initiated by Russia in 1996. Sharing a common interest, in 1999, Russia and India initiated a dialogue on joint development of the MTA. While India was driven by the need for an aircraft to replace its fleet of over 100 An-32 aircraft that was inducted into the IAF in the mid eighties and would need replacement in about four decades, Russian interests apart from financial, were to reinforce the long-standing strategic relationship with India in the regime of military hardware. After protracted negotiations since 1999, the Indo-Russian MTA project estimated to cost around $600 million (Rs 2,700 crore) and to be shared equally by the two partners, finally appears to be approaching fruition. Approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security was obtained by end of 2009. Estimates are that the maiden flight of the first prototype would take place in 2013 with deliveries commencing three years later. As compared with the An-32, the MTA will have significantly higher payload capacity and better performance. It is designed to airlift a maximum of 18.5 tonnes over 2,500 km at a speed of 800 kmph. The An-32 can airlift a maximum of 6.7 tonnes over 1,500 km at a speed of 500 kmph. The MTA will be able to drop 74 paratroopers as against 42 by the An-32. The unit cost is estimated to be around $40 million (Rs 180 crore). The total numbers to be inducted for the IAF will be 100 for IAF and possibly a few more for the paramilitary forces. Upgradation Programmes With the possibility of replacement in the near future being remote, India had signed a deal worth $400 million (Rs 1,800 crore) with Ukraine for mid-life upgradation of the fleet of 100 or so An-32 aircraft of the IAF. The first batch of five aircraft of the total of 40 to be upgraded in Phase I arrived at Kiev airport in the first week of March this year. Upgradation of the remaining will be undertaken at No. 1 Base Repair Depot of the IAF at Kanpur. With the upgradation scheduled to be completed be 2013, the fleet is expected to continue in service up to 2030. The upgradation will include an improved avionics suite,
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traffic collision avoidance system, modern communication and navigation equipment, ground proximity warning system, upgraded radio altimeters, new radar, multifunctional displays, new oxygen system, better seats in the cockpit for crew comfort, life extension of both, the engine and airframe life, range and payload capacity to 7.5 tonnes.
Ongoing Programmes/Future Acquisitions After a prolonged period of relative inactivity, the IAF has apparently got the wake-up call for its helicopter fleets as well, and is now seeking to enhance its rotary wing capabilities in different categories. It is in the process of acquiring 80 Russian-built Mi-17 V-5 (also known as Mi-171) under a $1.2 billion (Rs 5,000 crore) deal with the first batch entering service this year. The programme is to be completed by 2013. It is also revealed that the IAF may be planning for a repeat order of up to 40 more. In addition, deliveries of the indigenous advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv continue with a total induction of 54 units (38 utility and 16 armed versions). RFPs have also been issued/in the process of being issued to acquire 15 heavy-lift helicopters, 22 attack helicopters, and 115 light utility helicopters out of a joint Army-Air Force requirement of 312 units. The good news for the VVIP/VIP travel has been the clearance to acquire the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters which had run into rough weather with India’s Finance Ministry over high costs. A Euro 560 million (Rs 3,400 crore) deal was signed between the Anglo-Italian manufacturer and the IAF on March 11 this year for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters to be operated by the Air HQ Communication Squadron located at Palam airport in Delhi. The agreement also includes logistic support for five years and initial training of aircrew and technicians. Reports from the Ministry of Defence suggest that the Defence Acquisition Council has gone into a proactive highdrive by approving in principle the cumulative acquisition of as many as 695 helicopters of different types by the armed forces of India. The IAF’s share is likely to be in the region of 300 helicopters which would include heavy-lift, medium-lift, light utility, armed/attack and the VIP helicopters. SP —With inputs on Transport Force from Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey
The IAF is on the lookout for appropriate aircraft for pilot training.The ﬁrst installment of the article in this issue throws light on how difficult it would be for the IAF to choose an aircraft which can meet its requirements in the next three decades.
By Air Commodore (Retd) K.B. Menon
ilot training at the Indian Air Force (IAF) Academy and some other training establishments have hit a major roadblock. The HPT-32 Deepak used for primary training has been grounded. The training schedule has been disrupted due to lack of trainer aircraft and the IAF has warned the Ministry of Defence of the impending crisis. Ab initio training carried out on HPT-32 Deepak has been beset with engine problems for almost 15 years, but the proverbial last straw was the crash of an HPT-32 in July 2009 killing two instructors from Air Force Academy Dundigal. The HJT-16 Kiran has been pressed into action to initiate rookie trainees for ab initio flying training. It is a well-known fact that this is not the ideal trainer aircraft for this role and more importantly adequate number of aircraft is not available to sustain the tempo of long-term training. The recent crash of the Indian Navy Kiran during a formation aerobatic display at Hyderabad has put the aircraft under media glare. The Indian Navy has grounded the Kiran fleet till inquiry establishes the cause of the accident. Flying training at the Air Force Academy cannot be curtailed. Stop gap measures will be evolved and a patchwork solution put in place by the Indian Air Force to tide over the crisis temporarily. The HPT-32 fitted with the Lycoming AEIO-540-D4A5 engine has a terrible history of engine problems. Despite the best efforts of the IAF, HAL and Lycoming the reliability of the HPT32 engine could not be enhanced. The engine has often failed unexpectedly and with catastrophic results. This problem was not unique to the IAF alone. The United States Air Force (USAF) had a similar problem with the Slingsby T-3 Firefly fitted with the same Lycoming engine. After a series of accidents caused by engine failures, the USAF grounded the fleet in July 1997, but the IAF persisted with the HPT-32 till 2009. Surprisingly, the Zlin-50, a fully aerobatic aircraft and some other which had the same engine, did not suffer the ailments of the HPT-32 or the Slingsby T-3. A recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report termed the aircraft as “technologically outdated and beset by flight safety hazards.” The IAF has been projecting the problems associated with trainer aircraft and the need to induct a modern replacement. These projections were overshadowed by the high visibility multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) requirements and need for heavy lift transport aircraft. Ashok Nayak, Chairman, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, offered the IAF a modern replacement for the HPT-32 two years ago. This would be the Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT-40) to be delivered in six years. Even if the HTT-40 were to TRAINER AIRCRAFT: be designed and manufac(TOP LEFT) PC-21 (LEFT) M-311
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 21
PHOTOGRAPHS: PILATUS AIRCRAFT, ALENIA AERMACCHI, GROB-AIRCRAFT, USAF & EMBRAER
the chosen supplier will be required to deliver 12 aircraft within two years of signing the contract and the balance in batches. The whole order is likely to be for 181 basic trainers of which 75 aircraft will be supplied off the shelf and 106 will be jointly produced with HAL in India. The trainer aircraft selected will be the workhorse of IAF Training Command for at least 30 years and should therefore address the needs of the future. The IAF trains its pilots not merely to be a pilot but to be an aviator who will be confident of functioning in a high-threat environment bombarded by multiple stimuli from different quarters. He or she must be capable of sustaining long hours of flying under trying conditions. In addition to excelling in tactical skills, the pilot also needs to be a leader of men with appropriate personality traits and confidence in themselves and the team under his/her command. With these characteristics as the framework of a military aviator, the training system must identify the ideal candidate as early as possible in the training phase so that the investment on an unsuitable candidate is reduced to the minimum. Flying is a skill and skill levels vary with individuals. Everybody cannot achieve the same level of skills and the IAF lays down the minimum skill levels that are required of the pilots in different facets of training. The selected aircraft must therefore be capable of taking the trainees through the entire gamut of a flying syllabus necessary for military training. It must prepare the pilot for the next level of training and more importantly it must offer a challenge to the trainee which he/she must be able to conquer in a reasonable timeframe. Some years ago, one of the Air Chiefs of the South African Air Force was asked “why his Air Force was persisting with WW II vintage Texan T6 in the training establishments?” he replied that his Air Force would continue with the vintage T-6 till they were able to identify another trainer aircraft which could “separate the wheat from the chaff” during the training phase. Among the trainer aircraft identified by the IAF, the Grob G-120 is a very basic trainer but is fully aerobatic. The aircraft does not have the potential to be a lead-in trainer to more advanced stages of military flying training. A major drawback is the lack of an ejection seat. On the other hand, the Finnmeccanica M-311 is a fast jet trainer for the basic/ advanced phase of pilot training. The aircraft has a completely new avionics suite and fuel efficient turbo fan engine. The manufacturer claims that the acquisition and lifecycle cost is similar to the high power turboprop trainers. The other aircraft in the fray, i.e., the Raytheon T-6 Texan, KT-1 Woongbi Korean basic trainer, Brazilian Embraer Tucano 312, Swiss Pilatus PC-21 and the Polish PZL-130 Orlik, are all high-power turboprop aircraft which can take the trainee pilot through the full spectrum of military flying training. The IAF is spoilt for choice and it is going to be an extremely difficult process to choose the appropriate trainer. Any of the aircraft could meet the IAF’s requirement; but the challenge is to choose the aircraft appropriate to the IAF’s training philosophy so that it meets the requirements in the next three decades. This is also an opportunity for the IAF to examine, review and redesign its training philosophy in the light of the new technology being inducted, not only at the training phase but also at the operational squadrons in the next decade. SP (To be continued)
AIRCRAFT IN THE FRAY: (TOP TO BOTTOM) G-120, T-6A TEXAN II, TUCANO MILITARY AIRCRAFT
tured in collaboration with an established design house, the delivery time is highly optimistic. Its subsequent induction into service would entail more delays. The estimated requirement is about 200 trainer aircraft. Although HAL has the capacity to produce indigenously the turbo trainer, project delays may seriously hamper the IAF’s training plans. The Ministry of Defence issued a request for proposal (RFP) for acquisition of 75 basic trainer aircraft. The major contenders for the supply were Embraer with the Tucano 312, Raytheon for T-6 Texan aircraft, Finnmecannica for M-311 Aircraft, Pilatus for the PC-21, Grob Aircraft Company for G-120 TP and Korea Aerospace for KT-1 Trainer. The proposals were to be submitted by March 17, 2010, and
22 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
ON LAUNCH PAD: CHANDRAYAAN-1 LAUNCHER
Jostling for Space
PHOTOGRAPHS: ESA & ORBITAL SCIENCES
Devastating disasters are as much part of the high-stakes space industry as are sweet successes. It will need considerable effort and many successful GSLV launches to get back on track. ISRO certainly has what it takes.
he Indian Space Research file GSLV mission showed that ISRO, By Group Captain (Retd) Organisation (ISRO) sufin the face of a stringent technology Joseph Noronha fered a significant setback denial regime, still has some way to on account of the unsucgo to master the art. cessful April 15 mission In cryogenic technology, superof the Geosynchronous cooled liquid fuels—generally hydroSatellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3). gen and oxygen—are mixed and igAfter a flawless lift-off from the Satish nited to power heavy rockets like the Dhavan Space Centre, Sriharikota, the crucial cryogenic GSLV. Oxygen is a liquid below minus 183 degree celsius upper stage failed, sending the rocket and its precious pay- and hydrogen is below minus 253 degree celsius. Therefore, load spinning out of control. Way back in 1992-1993, the they have to be rapidly pumped into the rocket’s fuel tanks US pressure succeeded in persuading Russia to renege on till seconds before lift off, using high speed turbo-pumps an agreement to transfer cryogenic technology to India. running at 40,000 revolutions per minute. The mix has to Instead, the Russians contracted to sell seven cryogenic be perfect, or else, the rocket could explode. On both counts, upper stages. Five flights of the GSLV have already been advanced technological capabilities and complex ground powered by Russian cryogenic stages. But not satisfied support systems are essential. with mere handouts, ISRO itself took up the challenge of A successful GSLV flight generally lasts just 1,022 secacquiring the cutting-edge technology. The latest high pro- onds, after which its satellite payload is injected into geoIssue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 23
synchronous transfer orbit (GTO). From there, the satellite’s own propulsion system can take it safely to its permanent geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO), 35,786 km from the earth. After over 18 years of toil, 720 seconds (the duration of operation of the indigenous cryogenic upper stage) is all it needs to catapult India into an elite group—the US, Russia, European Space Agency, China and Japan—that have successfully harnessed this advanced technology. That wait just got a little longer.
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GSLV is currently ISRO’s heaviest launch vehicle, capable of injecting a payload of 2,500 kg into GTO. The April 15 launch was the maiden test of the indigenous cryogenic stage. ISRO will have to carefully analyse reams of mission data and understand the reasons for the failure. It is expected to make the next launch attempt in a year or so. GSLV Mk III, currently under development, will make ISRO capable of launching heavy satellites of the 4,500-5,000 kg class. Once it becomes operational in the next 2-3 years, it could slash the current $20,000 (Rs 897,160) per kg satellite launch cost to around half the figure. This would significantly bolster India’s efforts to muscle into the $4 billion (Rs 17,900 crore) global satellite launch services market. Commercial satellite launches constitute a lucrative avenue for an aspiring space power to pursue. India already has 211 satellite transponders in orbit and ISRO aims to raise this to 500 by 2014. The current schedule of two or three satellite launches a year, would need to be increased to 6-8 missions a year, in order to meet this ambitious target. Telecom satellites operate in GEO—the most challenging orbit for launch vehicles. In contrast, the International Space Station (ISS) circles in low earth orbit (LEO), a mere 330 km from earth. ISRO has already created two major satellite constellations. The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system consists of multipurpose geosynchronous satellites that satisfy the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology and search-and-rescue needs of India. It is the largest national communications system in the Asia-Pacific Region. The Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite system, a series of earth observation satellites, forms the largest constellation of civilian remote sensing satellites anywhere in the world. By the end of next year, ISRO intends to launch the first satellite in a new constellation required for the ambitious Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) project. When the seven-satellite IRNSS becomes fully functional around 2014, it will be India’s answer to the US operated Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) System, as well as its European, Chinese and Russian versions and will make the country completely self-reliant in satellite navigation services.
RACING TO THE MOON
other unmanned lunar orbiter mission, for which a 2013 launch date is envisaged. The spacecraft will carry a lander and a rover that will separate from the mother ship and make a gentle descent to the moon’s surface, probably near a pole. The modules will then undertake onsite analyses and sample collection. By 2015-16, India could begin to write its human spaceflight chapter with the launch of a three-man capsule. This will enable ISRO to participate meaningfully in the ISS programme for which talks about India’s potential membership are expected later this year. More human spaceflights are likely, and, if all goes well, there will be an attempt to send an Indian astronaut to the lunar surface by around 2020. The series of moon missions pits India in direct competition with China. The developing high-stakes space race will attract considerable international publicity and raise the technological stature of both countries, especially if they successfully achieve a manned lunar landing. China: China’s space programme is certainly going places. Despite some slippage in its carefully mapped timetable for
AN ARTIST IMAGINATION: TAURUS II IN FLIGHT
India: Telecommunications and navigation satellites, though vital, are not everything. Once the GSLV-D3 failure is overcome, India could aspire to human spaceflight capability as well. The largely successful Chandrayaan-1 unmanned lunar orbiter mission of 2008-09 spurred ISRO’s ambitions to make Indian astronauts walk the surface of the moon, perhaps in a decade from now. Chandrayaan-2 will be an24 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
human spaceflight, it is persisting with its endeavours. China’s Shenzhou spacecraft is a proven crew capsule and the country is also developing a cargo vehicle. Although China is seeking ISS membership, sometime next year it plans to launch its own space station—a way of saying, “we can do it alone.” The unmanned Tiangong 1 module, weighing 8,500 kg, will help China’s budding taikonauts (astronauts) hone their docking skills. If all goes well, three taikonauts will move in and keep the station permanently occupied, much as the ISS currently is. In five years or so, Tiangong 1 will be replaced by a more functional module and a cargo carrier. The advanced space station’s three component 20,000 kg modules will be launched individually by the Long March 5 rocket from the new Hainan launch site. Once completed, the station will orbit for 10 years at up to 450 km altitude. A Chinese manned mission to the moon around 2020-2022 is
a strong probability, thereafter. The Chinese seem anxious to learn to live and work in space for prolonged periods, with targets of Mars and beyond envisaged.
THE OLD TIMERS
European Space Agency: The European Space Agency (ESA) also has plans to boost space spending by at least 50 per cent, in order to undertake human spaceflight and a Mars unmanned sample return mission. Mars is currently the ultimate goal of the global human space exploration programme. Sometime next year, the European Mars 500 experiment will see six make-believe astronauts spending a total of 520 days locked inside a set of containers. The experiment will simulate a 250-day trip to the planet, a 30-day stay on its surface, as well as a 240-day trip back home, closely mimicking conditions of an actual trip to the Red Planet, except for weightlessness. Another ESA project on the drawing board is the Advanced Re-entry Vehicle, to bring cargo back from the ISS. US: What about the current leading space power, the US? This year has seen a dramatic change in America’s space aspirations. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had planned to return American astronauts to the moon after a gap of four decades and perhaps use the lunar surface as a base for manned missions to Mars, as a way to recover from the devastating loss of the shuttle Columbia in 2003. It hoped that America’s love affair with human spaceflight would be rekindled and the heady excitement and pride of the Apollo moon missions be regained. But after six years of effort and spending $9 billion (Rs 40,300 crore), NASA’s ambitious Constellation programme has practically been terminated. The powerful Ares I rocket and the Orion crew exploration vehicle—intended to replace the ageing space shuttle fleet, due to retire this year—are on the verge of being abandoned, on account of budgetary constraints. For the first time since it was established, NASA will not have a manned space transportation system, but will have to rely on the Russians and private parties to meet its needs. Currently, only Russia provides crew transport to the ISS with its Soyuz TMA spacecraft, at a cost of $51 million (Rs 220 crore) per seat.
Space tourism alone could be a $700 million (Rs 314 crore) industry by 2020, conveying thousands of passengers a year to the edge of space
and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for missions to the ISS. These contracts spurred the development of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon capsule and OSC’s Taurus II and Cygnus capsule. The first commercial cargo flight to the space station is scheduled next year. NASA funding should also help develop human-rated space vehicles that will eventually be capable of transporting astronauts. These vehicles might easily be adapted to serve new commercial markets such as space tourism, and attract private capital investment, leading to a vibrant commercial spaceflight industry. Since the dawn of the space age in 1957, around 55 per cent of spacecraft have been launched for military purposes and 45 per cent for civilian ones. But contrary to popular impression, the military usage of space is currently in retreat, amounting to just 20 per cent now. Instead, space tourism alone could be a $700 million (Rs 314 crore) industry by 2020, conveying thousands of passengers a year to the edge of space. Tickets are already on sale at an affordable $200,000 (Rs 8,975,983) each. Virgin Galactic has secured spaceflight reservations from over 330 adventurous souls eager for a taste of space. In almost half a century of human spaceflight, more than 500 people from 38 countries have been to space. The first private suborbital craft, if it ever becomes operational, could well exceed that record in a couple of years. Yes, space is all set to get crowded.
PLAYING “CATCH UP”
The American private sector is also set to foray into space. In 2008, NASA contracted with Orbital Sciences (OSC)
Can the cancellation of the ambitious Constellation programme mark the beginning of a dramatic decline in America’s leading role in human spaceflight, and allow countries like China and India to bridge the gap? To view actual capabilities in perspective, NASA’s Saturn V could launch 118,000 kg into LEO, while the now abandoned Ares V was designed to lift 188,000 kg. In comparison, China’s Long March 5, due to become operational around 2015, will only haul 25,000 kg to LEO. Some experts feel that the Chinese space programme is unlikely to pose much of a challenge to the US or Russian programmes for decades to come, because of its slow pace. The Soviet Union and the United States each launched three dozen manned and unmanned human-capable capsules in the first decade of their human spaceflight programmes (1960–1969). While 24 Soviet cosmonauts spent 42 days in space, 44 American astronauts logged 96 days. The Russian Soyuz is currently the world’s number one rocket—almost 1,700 have been launched in 52 years. In the last 18 years alone, 252 Soyuz rockets have been launched with just 4 failures, for a stupendous success rate of 98 per cent. In contrast, the Chinese have launched a mere seven Shenzhou capsules in the last decade, three of them piloted by a total of six taikonauts who spent nine days in space. The Indian programme, of course, is considerably further behind, with the GSLV Mk III aiming to lift just 10,000 kg to LEO and the first manned mission still years away. Clearly, the two countries have plenty of catching up to do. As for ISRO, last month’s failed mission (after a string of triumphs) showed that devastating disasters are as much part of the high-stakes space industry as are sweet successes. It will need considerable effort and many successful GSLV launches to get back on track. ISRO certainly has what it takes. SP
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 25
PHOTOGRAPHS: ALAN PEAFORD & OEMS
C O V E R S T O R Y
of aircraft interiors and ﬁnds just why this industry is booming while the world’s markets falter
ropean Business Aviation show, EBACE in May – was from DesignQ, the creative team that had designed the interiors of cars such as the Range Rover and Jaguar as well as the Upper Class cabins of Virgin Atlantic aircraft. They were showing the Avro Explorer targeted at intrepid explorers with high net worth and a taste for luxury. Branded the Explorer One and Explorer Four, the concepts are the first two of five that UK consultancy Design Q was contracted to develop. They are intended to make full use of the Avro Business Jet’s distinctive features, such as its large rear-opening freight door and high level of interior space. Each of the two Explorer concepts incorporates an “air deck” viewing platform that can be extended from that door, in addition to a luxurious interior that incorporates an entertainment system and open-plan galley. Curved sofas encircle a low central Ottoman on which monitors can
Marcelle Nethersole writes from London on the world
rom the outside it looks like any other Avro regional jet. With its four engines and exceptional short-field performance, it is a common sight on small regional or private airfields. It is so versatile that across the Indian subcontinent or into central Asia, the type is also seen on unpaved landing strips bringing hunting parties on the lucrative trips from the Gulf states. But inside, it is a different story. This particular jet based on the BAE 146 whispering jet has an altogether different look, unrecognisable to those who are used to it as a shorthop commuter aircraft. The royal families of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain have taken these former regional workhorses, and with the help of innovative designers and specialist completions centres have converted the aircraft to flying palaces. The latest innovation – unveiled at Geneva at the EuSP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
CIVIL BUSINESS AVIATION
be placed. “These concepts elevate the ABJ to a new level of sophistication,” says Stewart Cordner, vice-president of Avro Business Jets at BAE’s regional aircraft unit. The ABJ Explorer One is aimed at highnet-worth individuals (HNWI) seeking to explore remote locations “in a stylish and comfortable way”. A fully equipped office workstation is incorporated in the forward bulkhead, while a large display cabinet is positioned on the opposite side of the aircraft. White marble stone is used in both the floor and the central table situated aft of the lounge in a crescent-shaped alcove. A lavatory is situated in the walkway leading to the stunning rear entertainment lounge and air deck. The Explorer Four concept, meanwhile, is targeted at the luxury charter segment, as an alternative to a yacht. It can provide overnight accommodation for four couples or individuals, in private VIP cabins equipped with a sofa and chair combination that can be converted to a full-size double bed. Each cabin has its own entertainment system with a 17in
COMFORT ZONE: (LEFT) TEASER PORSCHE DESIGN JET AVIATION CONFERENCE AREA; (RIGHT TOP) BOEING BUSINESS JET INTERIOR, THE CLASSIC DESIGN FOR VVIP MARKET; (RIGHT BOTTOM) THE WASHROOM OF AIRBUS A318 ELITE WHICH HAS PLENTY OF FREEDOM FOR INDIVIDUAL DESIGN
high-definition flatscreen monitor. The cabins are also equipped with a fullheight wardrobe and direct access to a large dressing room incorporating a toilet and shower, located in the aircraft’s mid-section. The glazed bulkheads can be transformed from obscure to transparent to create “a more social space”. Sleeping quarters are provided for the crew both in a cabin in the forward lower hold. Many of the aerospace companies have turned to automotive designers to work with them with cabin designs. “There is an enormous similarity between the luxury car and the interiors of the lighter jets, “ says Luis Carlos Affonso, the head of Embraer’s corporate aircraft division. “That’s why you see companies like Porche, BMW and Mercedes getting involved with manufacturers. Making the best use of space is vital.” Embraer’s latest super light jet, the Phenom 300, features a cabin designed by BMW Designworks as does the single-engined Pilatus PC-12. “Most business jets are functional and there for business,”
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 27
CIVIL BUSINESS AVIATION
says Cessna President Jack Pelton. “They are much more like an SUV. There is a lot of similarity between that luxurious but functional interior that an executive would expect from his automobile that can be applied to his business aircraft. Swiss interiors specialist Jet Aviation has added Porsche Design Studio to its list of interior design companies and will collaborate on future VVIP aircraft cabin interiors. “When designing for the luxury-brand Porsche Design, we place particular focus on technically inspired, timeless products,” says Roland Heiler, managing director of Porsche Design Studio. “It is that very philosophy which will be the basis for our aviation designs: not opulent but timeless, purist and clear with the aim to distinguish from traditional aircraft interiors,” he adds. But as the jets get bigger so does the demand for greater individuality in the interior design. Airbus, whose Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJs) are continuing to attract more customers across Asia have invested in their own completions and design centre in order to get the best for from the vast interior of the A320 family airframe. “The aircraft is right for people who are looking for the comfort and space in the air that they would get in their homes,” says Francois Chazelle, head of Airbus corporate jet business. “The Airbus ACJ family has the widest cabin and more space than any other aircraft in its class,” Chazelle says. “This gives us the chance to introduce a number of design options that are impossible on other aircraft. For example, you can include a round table to allow families or colleagues to sit together to eat. Also because there are no air conditioning ducts in the ceiling we are able to have a domed ceiling, which gives a whole different ambience to the cabin.” Airbus’ investment in the completions business is timely. According to the president of one of the oldest business jet interiors companies Jack Lawless of Associates Air Center (AAC) – part of Dubai’s DAE group – there will be a shortage of completions centres as the world comes out of recession. “It can take 18 months from the time the green aircraft arrives at the completion centre before it is delivered back to the customer,” says Lawless. “There is a great interest in by people buying widebodied aircraft such as the 767 or the 340 and converting them to business jets. There just isn’t the capacity to meet the demand,” he said. It is no wonder then that new businesses or joint ventures are arriving on the scene. In May, a Dubai-based interiors designer with experience in yachts and palaces teamed up with a New Zealand based Aerospace Interiors to enter the completions market from their facility in the UAE. Aerospace Interiors and UAE’s Greenline Interiors are developing a comprehensive base in Dubai to build a dominant market position in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. Greenline Interiors has extensive design and manufacture capability from a 60,000 sq m facility in Dubai. It is considered one of the world’s leading providers of turnkey solutions for interior outfitting of luxury palaces, super yachts, high-end residences and commercial spaces, as well as five-to-seven star hotels. Aerospace Interiors has three successful BBJ refurbishments already under its belt. “The global VIP aviation interiors market presents a high-value niche opportunity that
28 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010 www.spsaviation.net
CIVIL BUSINESS AVIATION
EXTRAVAGANT INTERIORS: (LEFT) BAE AVRO BUSINESS JET’S EXPLORER ONE REAR LOUNGE WITH OPEN AIR DECK; (BOTTOM LEFT) BOMBARDIER’S CHALLENGER 300 INTERIOR IS A LARGE BUSINESS JET WITH TRADITIONAL STYLE; (BOTTOM RIGHT) CESSNA CARAVAN INTERIOR MAY ONLY BE A TURBOPROP BUT JACK PELTON , BELIEVES THE SUV DESIGN FOR UTILITY WORK IS RIGHT FOR BUSINESS IN THE AIR
is a very good fit with our skills and experience,” said managing director Lance Sheppard. “Greenline’s long history in providing full interior solutions to the super yacht market enables them to also look at the aviation market with a fresh perspective. Aerospace is a design and innovation lead company and we see phenomenal opportunity in the development of new interior productlines that will evolutionise the interior environment and how it is presented.” “We believe the combination of our knowledge and experience in the aviation market with Greenline’s state-of-the-art manufacturing base will provide a real competitive edge that will enable us to make strong inroads into this market and establish ourselves as a major player.” The challenge for the interior designers and completions companies is saving weight. Every single component part of any cabin is now closely scrutinised. Saving weight on any aircraft is now one of the top specifications, as Matthias Tischhauser, division manager mobility textiles of Swiss company Tisca Tiara, explains, “One of the top specifications for aircraft carpet is the need for lightweight carpet. Last year we developed an innovative new lightweight carpet quality resulting in 25 per cent weight saving compared to standard aircraft carpets. Of course, business jets like to make their own mark on design. He explains, “Besides carpets being lightweight we have made sure we have different design options. We offer different patterns and designs in different colours to make them attractive to any customer. Our Waron production technique of embroidered carpet is solely for the VIP and business jet market or Sky – Silk in the Sky, which is made with top end raw materials including Swiss mountain silk, a high grade silk yarn, which is carefully combined and interwoven with pure new wool from New Zealand. “Our customer requirements all vary, some prefer block of rich colour, others a specific design with a mix of colours such as gold and red. We are able to provide a quick turnaround in any design, colour, texture and width the customer requires.” The company has also developed a hard-wearing lightweight seat cover fabric as well as fabrics for curtains, headrests, pillow cases, machine-woven and machine-tufted carpets, hand-tufted and hand-woven carpets, and exclusive embroidered carpets, all of which are eco-friendly. “With business jet design requests we really need to be on the ball as there are so many design manufacturers now,” says Tischhauser. Lantal, another Swiss company, providers of soft interiors for aircraft believe comfort is the main priority. “Our products include seat covers, smooth headrests, subtle wall coverings, pre-cut carpets, fine leathers and pleated curtains, as well as weight-saving pneumatic cushions for commercial
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 29
CIVIL BUSINESS AVIATION
LUXURY REDEFINED: LUFTHANSA TECHNIK CONCEPT FOR A380 DEMONSTRATING THE CHALLANGE FOR THE WIDEBODY COMPLETIONS HOUSES ON WHAT WILL BE A ONE-OFF DESIGN
and business jets,” says Director of Sales Peter Kuhn. “We do a lot of bespoke and customer design products as well as have stock collections for customers to choose,” shares Kuhn. Offering a full aircraft interiors package is UK aircraft interior refurbishment and manufacturing company MAC Interiors which has been selected by Egypt Air to refurbish three of the airline’s Falcon 20 VIP jets. The company provides a full package of aircraft interior services, from concept design through to certification and installation. “We have a team of exceptionally skilled professionals and gifted designers using the finest materials sourced from all over the world,” says Stephen Whittaker, the company’s managing director. “Whether you require a single piece of bespoke furnishing for an executive jet, or complete multiple assemblies for an aircraft interior refurbishment, MAC Interiors will offer the right solution.” Whittaker says its customers are looking towards more contemporary interiors with a chic stylish feel to them. “We do not design for re-sale value; it is always personal taste. Our customer is priority; whatever they want we will provide but we are careful to guide them and apply all sensible options with wider appeal where it is appropriate to do so.” MAC designs everything from galley units, seats and in-flight baby cradles to cabin dividers and oxygen storage systems. It is currently working closely with raw material manufacturers to approve lightweight versions of materials from the super yacht industry, including 3D metallic base
30 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
decorative surfacing. “We pride ourselves on technical innovation and pushing the boundaries of materials, design and manufacture. We’re skilled at interpreting the personal tastes of customers from all over the world, engaging with their individual or brand identities and creating interiors that are exclusive, while maintaining the utmost elegance, style and practicality,” says Whittaker. It is the personal touch that matters. Gary Doy, director of DesignQ points out, “With a VIP you have to try to understand them. You won’t always meet that person, so it can be hard to understand their aspirations and tastes. We have to know the customer’s taste. What does he have in his house?” For one customer, the Avro Business Jet marks a pure interim solution “because of the long lead times on new jets,” says Doy. DesignQ used laser scanners to capture the entire aircraft interior to a 3mm accuracy to start building virtual models of what the jet could be like. Doy says it is about surprising and delighting the customer. “You would not expect this interior in this aircraft, it adds an extra wow factor. It is simplistic but neutral because he needs the interior to his taste, but also some neutrality for other users. “We are adding in surprise and delight features, things that you might not find the first time you fly, but maybe on the second or third flight. It can be something as simple as a signature on the back of the furniture. He might never find it; but if he does, then he knows it’s a very special product.” SP
BULLISH ABOUT GROWTH: CESSNA SHOWCASED A WHOLE RANGE OF ITS AIRCRAFT
Back in Business
Arguably the most important meeting in the world for business aviation took place in Geneva in May EBACE, is the annual . convention for the European business aviation industry and Alan Peaford was there.
PHOTOGRAPHS: CESSNA & BILLYPIX
t is no secret that the business aviation industry is in the doldrums. Programmes have been cancelled, production lines decimated by redundancies and supply chains rusting through lack of use. So, visitors to the huge Palexpo centre at Geneva airport could have been forgiven for expecting to see tumbleweed rather that twinjets at this year’s EBACE convention. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The show had record numbers of exhibitors and the number of aircraft on the static park matched that of the pre-recession display. “We have seen people here from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” said Jack Lawless, president of Standard Aero subsidiary, Associated Air Centre. “This is now the most important show in our calendar,” he said. He was not alone. Acropolis Aviation’s recently acquired an Airbus 319 Corporate Jet was featured in the Airbus exhibit on static display. Operations Manager Paul Travis had a resoundingly positive view of the experience. “EBACE was fantastic exposure for
Acropolis and the timing couldn’t have been better. We’ve had the license and AOC just over three weeks and already we’re seeing overwhelming interest in our ACJ,” he said. From the manufacturing point of view, Gulfstream president Joe Lombardo was bullish about the event. “We need to be here. Markets have changed. At one time most of our sales were in the United States. Now we recognise how much we need to be doing internationally.” That view was echoed by Cessna’s president Jack Pelton, who said: “Levels of interest in our aircraft are definitely beginning to pick up and, while the recovery may be slow, there are reasons for optimism. “Europe is arguably the most diverse region in the world for business aviation. There are established major markets like Germany and the UK, and I’m also optimistic about emerging markets. Before the economic downturn, for example, Eastern Europe was a very strong region for us and we are beginning to see signs—including Citation sales—of
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 31
SHOW REPORT EBACE 2010
that business coming back.” Honeywell took the opportunity of the convention to update its famous business aviation forecast which is usually at NBAA. It found more positive results than those released last October. The revisit showed that over the next five years, up to 34 percent of all new jet purchase plans in the world could come from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. These findings reflect a significant increase over Honeywell’s prior survey results. In Europe, five-year new jet buying plans of 59 per cent increased by more than 19 points compared to surveys conducted prior to the economic downturn, a new record high despite sluggish economic performance present at the time of the survey. In the Middle East and Africa, five-year new jet buying plans of 55 per cent increased by more than 10 points from pre downturn levels, also setting a new record. The Middle East, Asia and Africa regions usually rank as the areas with the highest purchase expectations but they are now joined by Europe despite the effects of the global recession. International demand now accounts for more than 50 per cent of the new aircraft purchase plans projected over the next five years. Honeywell forecasts that the regional mix of deliveries will continue to reflect this global shift in share. “Europe will undoubtedly remain a growth area for Cessna,” said Pelton. “Driven by the significant advantages that stem from business aviation, we expect the European Union to remain our single largest market outside the US for some time.” Like the other manufacturers Cessna brought a whole range aircraft to display including the CJ4 which made its European debut at the event. The company says it expects to receive European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for the Citation CJ4 by the end of the year. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the CJ4 was granted in March with the first customer delivery in the US in April. The Citation CJ4 is the newest and largest member of the
32 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
popular CJ family of business jets approved for single-pilot operations and shares a common pilot type rating with the other CJs. (A pilot rated to fly any one of the CJs is rated to fly them all.) Retail price in 2010 dollars for a typically equipped Citation CJ4 is $9 million. The Citation CJ4 has a range of just over 3,710 km (2,000 nautical miles) and a top speed of 839 km per hour (453 knots) – both numbers greater than originally announced in 2006. It has a takeoff roll of 954 metres (3,130 feet) at maximum takeoff weight and is capable of a direct climb to 13,716 metres (45,000 feet) in just 28 minutes. Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) were also showing off new aircraft. The King Air 350i was making its debut. Now equipped with the Rockwell Collins Venue cabin management system and state-of-the-art Beechcraft FlexCabin capability, the new King Air 350i was described at the show as setting the standard in cabin comfort, entertainment and flexibility while delivering unmatched fuel efficiency and the lowest operating cost per seat mile, making it one of the
SHOW REPORT EBACE 2010
BOUNCING BACK: (ABOVE) A LARGE ARRAY OF AIRCRAFT ON DISPLAY; CITATION CJ4 BY CESSNA; (OPPOSITE PAGE) HAWKER 4000
greenest aircraft available to business travellers today. HBC was also able to announce the long-delayed EASA certification of its super mid-size Hawker4000. “The market for the Hawker 4000 in Europe, Africa and the Middle East is an expansive and important one,” elaborated Sean McGeough, HBC’s president, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “EASA certification bolsters the Hawker 4000’s already enthusiastic reception in the region. There are currently eight aircraft based in the region with more scheduled for delivery in the coming months.” Gulfstream enjoyed the good fortune of timing. During the show the manufacturer’s latest model, the G650, was undergoing flight tests at Savannah when it reached its proposed top speed of Mach 0.925. This test sortie made the G650 the fastest-ever business jet flight and makes the aircraft the fastest civil aircraft, taking the mantle from Cessna’s Citation X. A competitor to the BBJ was announced at the show – with Project Phoenix claiming India and Asia Pacific could be potential customers. Project Phoenix currently markets
a top-end conversion of the Bombardier CRJ200 but now is adding a version of the Boeing 737-800 to its stable and it will be known as the Phoenix LBJ (Large Business jet). Several designs are being prepared including a 30-seat VIP version with private office and State Room as well as a higher density corporate version. Customers will be able to choose the number of auxiliary tanks to be installed depending on their operational range and payload requirements. Project Phoenix President Mike Cappuccitti said the group decided on the 737-800 owing to the type’s popularity and strong likelihood that there will be an increasing number of aircraft coming into the market. “The aircraft has all the right attributes for our programme. It is a New Generation 737. It requires little in the way of avionics upgrades. It has winglets and we can vary the range and payload capability depending on our customer’s specific needs,” he said. The company believes a key market driver will be the need for fiscal prudence in future VIP aircraft purchases. “There are people who need a BBJ size aircraft. What we will be doing is giving them one for $40 million less. A BBJ for the price of a Global,” he said. On the service side there were also a number of deals done. Honeywell said India-based Air Works will begin operations as its regional forward-stocking location partner for key mechanical and avionics parts by June. It will be supplying Air Works with a variety of products for Dassault and Gulfstream aircraft including fuel pumps, full authority digital electronic controls, digital electronic engine control display units, navigation and guidance units and enhanced grounded proximity warning units. As an authorised Honeywell service centre, Air Works will have the capability to support Dassault Falcon 2000, Falcon 900 and Falcon F7X jets as well as Gulfstream GIV, GV, G450 and G550 aircraft. “Our goal is to ship parts within 24h of order receipt and we are driving for a fully stocked
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 33
SHOW REPORT EBACE 2010
operation by June,” said Paolo Carmassi, Honeywell Aerospace president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Expanding our service network into India means we are better positioned to keep our customers in the region flying.” So the sense of optimism was there. But there were still clear warnings. One of industry’s most respected forecasters, Richard Aboulafia, said that from 2012 the industry could return to the sort of annual growth rates of up to 17 per cent it enjoyed until 2008. Recovery would come swiftest in the $25 million and the above category that was only mildly affected by the global downturn. Speaking at the show’s opening session, Aboulafia, the Teal Group’s senior aviation analyst, said the biggest brake on recovery for new aircraft sales is the inventory of used business jets on the market. Although the percentage of the fleet available for sale has dropped from over 16 per cent in 2009 to around 14 per cent, it will “take another year or so
TOP EXECUTIVES: (LEFT TO RIGHT) CHARLES EDELSTENNE OF DASSAULT; JACK PELTON OF CESSNA; JOE LOMBARDO OF GULFSTREAM; SEAN MCGEOUGH, OF HBC
to work through that backlog.” Used aircraft prices are still also falling. There were many signs of optimism, he said. Corporate profits are rising and big companies such as Ford - forced to furlough corporate jets last year as a result of political pressure - are resuming business jet travel. “Business aircraft are essential for the worldwide operations of a company like Ford,” he said. The “pendulum has swung back” said Charles Edelstenne of Dassault, which reported a net loss of 95 corporate sales last year. “I hope that will not be repeated for some time,” he said, noting that lead times had increased to “unsustainable” levels before the “bubble burst” in 2008. He warned that new aircraft sales would not recover until the “pre-owned inventory and prices go back to normal levels, and that will take some time”. As the three-day show closed the message was clear: Business aviation has hurt. It has patched itself up but the prognosis is good – we are back in business. SP
MERCEDES-BENZ STYLE FOR VIP OPERATORS
Eurocopter has teamed up with renowned automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz to develop a special edition of the EC145 twin-engine turbine helicopter with a high-end interior, which was unveiled at the 2010 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. The EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style was conceived in a design project led by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Como, Italy, and bears all the hallmarks and passion of Mercedes-Benz design. The EC145’s spacious cabin enabled Mercedes-Benz designers is inspired by the automaker’s new R-Class range. Seat upholstery in the EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style will be available in deluxe materials in a range of colours and a choice of elegant woods is offered to provide luxury underfoot. The overall impression of elegance and style is complemented by a stylish arrangement of wood panels for the ceilings. All seats are mounted on rails and can be quickly and easily reconfigured for different seating configurations, or removed to make room for luggage. Three multi-function boxes with features such as a cool box, cup holder, table, and monitor and DVD player have been incorporated, along with extra storage space provided by drawers. It has a partition wall with windows separating the cabin from the cockpit. A multi-purpose storage zone has been included in the EC145’s aft cabin, providing a high-capacity luggage compartment with numerous attachment points on the floor and walls for baggage, golf clubs and other outsized articles. As of now, more than 315 EC145s have been sold across the globe. The EC145s Mercedes-Benz Style will be available by the end of 2011. • 34 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010 www.spsaviation.net
FACING THE FIRE: AN UAV PARTICIPATING IN OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM IN AFGHANISTAN
Issue 5 • 2010
Since the battleﬁeld will have a plethora of weapons to engage the intrepid pilot, a commander would prefer the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which will allow him to use it in harm’s way and , accept its loss, without the attendant pain
By Air Marshal (Retd) he battlefield of the future “Buzz” bomb, by the Germans. After is likely to see conflicts the Great War, there was a pause, Raghu Rajan ranging from limited as these were used mainly as aerial wars to what is known as targets for air defence artillery. The “Operations other than RPVs now reappeared over the VietWars.” Air forces will play namese skies, as a savior for the US a key role as the guardian of the skies Air Force (USAF), when the Fighter as also in support of ground forces in Recce aircraft was facing heavy atthese conflicts. Developments in unmanned aerial vehicles trition in the face of enemy air defence artillery. The Ryan (UAVs) have reached a stage where the Commander prefers to Fire bee Target towing Drone was converted to a Recce RPV use UAVs than manned aircraft. platform and in the bargain, saved many pilot’s lives. UAVs Does this mean that the manned fighter aircraft has no were used in the Bekaa Valley conflict where the Israelis role to play over the battlefield? It would be in the fitness of used them for recce, carrying out spoof raids and in electhings to examine this issue dispassionately—to describe the tronic warfare (EW) tasks, resulting in one of the most ademployment and developments of UAVs, consider its surviv- verse loss ratios for the Syrians of 82:1. ability vis-à-vis the manned fighter, the impact on organisaThe US has been in the forefront of UAV development and tional structures, and its cost-effectiveness. these systems saw action over Bosnia, as also during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation EnEMPLOYMENT & DEVELOPMENT during Freedom over Afghanistan, where their effectiveness as UAVs were initially known as drones, then as remotely pi- a surveillance and recce platform has been astounding. loted vehicles (RPVs). These appeared initially as aerial torOn the effectiveness of the UAV, Admiral William A. Owens, pedoes, but saw actual combat in World War II, as the V-I Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a visit to
SP’S AVIATION 35
NATO HQ, observed: “I was looking at the Predator (Imagery Display) yesterday...it had been flying over an area at 25,000 ft for hours on end. It focused on to a building in a city and I could clearly see the outlines and structure of the building, then it expanded to show one window in the building and not only could I see it clearly but also the GPS coordinates, which could be transmitted to a pair of F-16s flying nearby, and allow the pilot to drop his precision weapon through the window—I’d buy a lot of UAVs in the future!”
WHAT IS A UAV?
It is a powered aerial vehicle that carries no human operator, uses aerodynamic forces for lift, flies autonomously or is piloted remotely, is either expendable or recoverable and carries both lethal and non-lethal payloads. Ballistic, semi-ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and artillery projectiles are not considered as UAVs. What makes the UAV so very effective? It is small in size, is powered by an efficient and small engine, micro electronics and finally, the introduction of composites have resulted in an aerial vehicle that is lighter, stealthier and can operate non-stop for tens of hours over an area. The absence of the pilot, the canopy, ejection systems, life support systems, and so on, allow the designer to tailor ‘g’ loading as a function of airframe structural integrity, than the pilot’s ‘g’ limitation. Ability to loiter for extended periods permits UAVs a near permanent presence over an enemy, providing a continuous stream of intelligence, while simultaneously delivering a lethal payload in seconds. These give an operational commander reliable means of recce in an environment where space-based or high altitude recce aircraft are rendered ineffective due to weather conditions. Moreover, these can perform missions in circumstances where political sensitivities or combat risks preclude the introduction of manned aircraft.
THE MANNED AIRCRAFT
further when UAVs are developed with increased survivability and performance (high speed and manoeuvrability). Operating costs of the UAV, however, are reported to be lower, too. During the period from 1995 to date, Predators have flown over 5,00,000 flight hours on over 50,000 flights. Predators and Reapers are now flying some 35 surveillance missions each day in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from 12 in 2001. The USAF has 195 Predators and 28 Reapers in Afghanistan. It is also reported that the US armed forces are flying over 3,50,000 hours every year on UAVs, while the Israelis fly almost 50 per cent of their total effort on remotely operated platforms.
ROLES OF THE UAV
Based on the developments in technology and its use in conflicts worldwide, the roles of the UAVs over the battlefield are as enumerated below, and these are only representative ones: • Recce, surveillance, target acquisition • Combat search and rescue • Target designation • Special and psychological operations • Maritime operations • Electronic warfare operations • Indirect fire support and battlefield strike • Battle damage assessment • Radio and data relay
THE INDIAN EXPERIENCE
The very same technological marvels have equally impacted manned aircraft operations. These are stealthy, carry a heavier load, are faster and can operate at greater distances by day or night. Manned aircraft, by virtue of their speed and flexibility of operations, have a quick response time. These possess integral self-defence and are capable of multiple roles by day and night. However, aircrew training and currency are difficult, expensive (despite simulators) and time consuming. But, as discussed earlier, where the risk to the manned fighter would preclude its use, the UAV would offer the best alternative to the battle commander.
SURVIVABILITY AND COST EFFECTIVENESS
India was not lagging behind in the development of UAVs and had made a start in designing the Nishant Tactical UAV for the army. It is developing a range of UAVs from the Rustom (Medium Altitude Long Endurance), Pawan (optimised for shorter ranges) and the Gagan (as a Tactical UAV). Not only the Indian Air Force, but the country’s army and the navy have also taken to the UAV most enthusiastically, and are using the Israeli Searcher and Heron UAV.
IMPACT ON ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES
While manned aircraft have used cutting edge technology and performance as the primary means of survival in a hostile environment, UAVs, on the other hand, have always relied on their size and unconventional flight profiles to survive in a high threat environment. Use of composites, radar absorbent materials, higher speed and manoeuvrability are some of the measures that designers are developing to reduce the exposure of UAVs to attrition. There is not enough empirical evidence of UAVs being used in actual battle to arrive at a reasonable conclusion. The unmanned vehicles cost a fraction of manned aircraft and this difference in costs may reduce
36 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
Unlike manned aircraft units, where operations and maintenance have clearly defined functions, UAV units have not yet stabilised, due to different means of launch and recovery, ever expanding roles due to advances in technology and their reliability. While mini-UAVs will have flight duration of say, an hour or so, the Predator and Global Hawk variety will stretch to 40 hours or more. This will require multiple shifts to enable success of the mission. Organisational structure need to be more flexible. Paucity of pilots will be felt, as most rated pilots would prefer cockpit time than sitting at the consoles of a UAV. This will necessitate not only cross training but also induction of trained airmen to take on the tasks of pilot, systems operator, communication specialist, and so on. National budgets will tilt more in favour of improving the quality of life, and this will have its first impact on defence budgets. Technology will permit more capable aircraft to rule the skies, but due to their higher costs, in lesser numbers. Since the battlefield will have a plethora of weapons to engage the intrepid pilot, a commander would prefer the UAV, which will allow him to use it in harm’s way, and accept its loss, without the attendant pain. Affordability, and its expanding roles, will see the UAV gradually taking over most high risk missions over the battlefield. SP
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 37
FLYING FAST: BA609 BELL/ AGUSTA HAS TWICE THE RANGE OF A HELICOPTER
The world’s major helicopter manufacturers have been using essentially the same principles of helicopter aerodynamics, control systems and power plants for four decades or more. It is time to
PHOTOGRAPHS: BELL/AGUSTA, PIASECKI, MILITARYPHOTOS.NET & BOEING
develop new solutions based on improving the aerodynamic and environmental characteristics of these useful machines.
elicopters are remark216.45 knots (401 km/h). By Group Captain (Retd) ably versatile flying maBut why sneer at the Lynx? Since Joseph Noronha, Goa chines, employable for a 1942, when Sikorsky’s R-4 became the wide variety of tasks. But world’s first mass produced helicopter, speed has never been the whirly birds have always operated at one of their strong points. an unhurried pace and stoutly resisted all Pit the Westland Lynx—which holds the attempts to make them speed up. Blame official world speed record for helicopters—against China’s it on a hazardous flight phenomenon called retreating blade Shanghai Maglev train, in a race starting at Shanghai Inter- stall, where the rotor blade rotating away from the direction of national Airport, and the train would reach its destination flight stalls. The condition worsens as forward speed increases. (30 km away on the outskirts of Shanghai) well ahead of the So machines capable of vertical flight have to compromise beLynx. While the Maglev normally operates at 431 km/h and tween hover performance and speed. The highly prized attrican even hit 501 km/h, the Lynx has never managed to exceed butes of good hover efficiency and hover endurance, low speed
controllability and low downwash means that forward speed is severely limited. As speed increases, there is also a dramatic rise in drag caused by the rotor and rotor head. No wonder the cruising speed of most helicopters is limited to a woeful 150 knots (278 km/h). That could be about to change. Speed is increasingly becoming a key desirable for helicopters, and the world’s leading manufacturers and researchers are gearing up to spur these sluggish machines to go faster. Obviously, further the operational distance, more attractive becomes the speed. Just as obvious is that safety and economics cannot be compromised in the pursuit of speed. The helicopter industry wants to be assured of safe and trouble free operations and low seat mile costs while travelling considerably faster. And optimism is now growing that vertical lift aircraft—military as well as civilian— could some day be freed from their current speed shackles.
50 per cent. The counter-rotating coaxial rotors mean that the traditional tail rotor is no longer required and has been replaced by a high-speed propeller. This propeller, which works much like those found on traditional aeroplanes, pushes the helicopter from behind. And unlike single-rotor helicopters that tip nose-down to accelerate, this remains level even while speeding up. Though it aims to achieve record speeds, it will still retain excellent low-speed handling ability, efficient hovering and autorotation safety. Sikorsky is working towards three key goals: low vibration, low pilot workload (meaning many processes will be automated, making it easier to fly), and low noise. But getting the helicopter to production won’t be speedy. Because of the numerous certifications required, it could take up to 10 years before these fast machines become common.
NOT TO BE LEFT BEHIND
Sikorsky has been at the cutting edge of helicopter technology for decades. Its S-69/XH-59A Advancing Blade Concept Demonstrator proved that high speed was feasible with coaxial rotors and auxiliary propulsion. At high speeds, the retreating blades were offloaded, since most of the load was supported by the advancing blades of both rotors. The penalty due to stall of the retreating blade was thus reduced and two advantages accrued. There was no need to fit a wing for high speeds or improved manoeuvrability. It also became possible to eliminate the anti-torque tail rotor. However, the S-69 was subject to high vibration levels, which ultimately led to it being scrapped. Another Sikorsky machine, the Cypher UAV, has enhanced knowledge of the unique aspects of flight control laws for a fly-by-wire aircraft with coaxial rotors. Finally, through the RAH-66 Comanche, the company gained expertise in composite rotors and advanced transmission design. Now Sikorsky is committing its competence to its X2 Demonstrator—an experimental compound coaxial helicopter. The X2 first flew on August 27, 2008. It is expected to reach 150 knots (278 km/h) soon and 250 knots by the end of the year. It has closely separated counter-rotating coaxial rotors with very rigid blades, active vibration damping and fly-by-wire controls. The cuffs and fairings on the top fuselage are streamlined and the rotor mast is enclosed to cut drag by
38 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
In July 2008, Piasecki began flight testing a Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) compound helicopter known as the X-49A ‘SpeedHawk’. Compound helicopters have been investigated for decades, but none has ever entered production, partly because the weight of the equipment needed for extra thrust tends to reduce the range and payload. Piasecki has developed this method to modify the existing military helicopters with an eight-foot-diameter shrouded propeller, nicknamed “the ringtail,” mounted on the tail boom. The company hopes that the kit will transform thousands of Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk helicopters into SpeedHawks, quickly and relatively cheaply. The technology features a five-blade propeller placed in a controllable ring-tail, in lieu of an anti-torque rotor. It includes a small wing that provides lift so the rotor doesn’t have to provide it all. This also delays the onset of retreating blade stall. The propeller allows the SpeedHawk to fly forward in level attitude, instead of pitching its nose down. These features, coupled with a rotor head fairing, significantly reduces high-speed drag. By offloading and slowing the main rotor with the flaperonequipped wings, and thrusting forward with the variable-pitch rear propeller, Piasecki envisages vertical take-off and good hover performance as well as a 200 knot plus cruise speed, well above the 155 knot cruise of the standard H-60. No, it won’t match the Sikorsky X2, but Piasecki feels that retrofitting an existing helicopter reduces many of the financial risks and
VARIED TECHONOLOGY: (LEFT TO RIGHT) PIASECKI’S X-49A SPEEDHAWK; MIL’S MI-X1; KAMOV’S KA-92 AND BELLBOEING’S V-22 OSPREY
into production in about five years. Eurocopter has also promised to launch a new technology demonstrator or upgradation programme every year for the next 10 years. This is likely to include a fast helicopter to challenge Sikorsky’s X2. The company has reportedly selected its preferred technology to compete with the X2 for speed, which it refers to as “extending the domain” of the helicopter.
TILTING FOR SPEED
cuts down on the long lead time required to deploy an entirely new technology. If all goes well, SpeedHawk upgrade kits should go
Then there are tilt-rotors. The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, operated by the United States Marine Corps and Air Force, can hit higher speeds than helicopters, but it is not a pure helicopter. It is a hybrid—half helicopter and half aeroplane. For take-off and landing, it typically functions as a helicopter with horizontal rotors. Then, by tilting its wingtip rotors forward through 90 degrees and flying like an aeroplane, the Osprey escapes retreating blade stall. It can cruise at around 250 knots and fly farther, un-refuelled, than helicopters. But the V-22 can’t hover as well as most helicopters, especially above 4,000 ft. That is not a drawback for a civilian aircraft. The Bell/ Agusta BA609 is a twin-engine tilt-rotor aircraft with a configuration similar to the V-22 Osprey, but intended for the civil market. It is designed to take off and hover in helicopter mode and cruise at 275 knots after transitioning to fixed-wing mode. Initial customer deliveries are projected for 2011. The BA609 can operate where jets cannot, such as from heliports or smaller airports, yet it has twice the range of a helicopter, and can fly almost twice as fast.
THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION
in cruise and adds torque stabilisation through thrust vectoring. Mil is also working on a system to suppress retreating blade stall. Kamov, meanwhile, is pursuing the Ka-90 concept as a “variable-geometry” air vehicle—one that functions as a helicopter during take-off and landing and as an aeroplane in cruise flight. The Ka-90 may have two separate propulsion systems, one for cruise and one for take-off and landing. A scale model revealed at the HeliRussia 2008 show provided evidence that the Ka-90 will have a turbojet in the rear fuselage for high-speed flight and a retractable rotor for take-off and landing. Presumably, the lift in cruise flight will be generated by a “wing,” and in this case it is a huge, specially shaped container above the fuselage into which the rotor blades are retracted after being folded. The Ka-90 is intended to cruise at a remarkable 378 knots. Only time will tell, if this is achievable. Separately, Kamov is developing the Ka-92 which is essentially a high-speed helicopter. These new, fast machines are planned to enter production in the 2015 timeframe.
KEEP THE SKY CLEAN
Two years ago, Russia’s Mil unveiled its Mi-X1 concept demonstrator, intended for cruise speeds of 245-270 knots (450-500 km/h). The helicopter has an innovative computercontrolled main rotor, and rear-mounted pusher propeller, which makes such speed possible. The pusher gives a boost
But speed is not everything. Aircraft manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to constantly take green concerns on board. Europe’s Clean Sky programme, for instance, is designed to make air transport more environment friendly. Some of the effort will also go to greening rotary wing aircraft. The focus will be on developing innovative rotor blades and novel turbine engine installations for noise reduction, together with diesel engine integration, airframe drag minimisation and advanced electrical systems for reducing fuel consumption. Clean Sky is also researching environment-friendly flight paths with optimised take-off and landing procedures and optimised mission profiles to help lower fuel burn and emissions. The world’s major helicopter manufacturers have been using essentially the same principles of helicopter aerodynamics, control systems and power plants for four decades or more. It is time to develop new solutions based on improving the aerodynamic and environmental characteristics of these useful machines. Speed is a key anticipated outcome. If all goes well, within the decade, a whole host of helicopters could race against the Shanghai Maglev—and hope to win. SP
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 39
Hall of Fame
IGHTER PILOTS HAVE A somewhat grisly method of assessing their proficiency. They count the number of “kills”— enemy aircraft downed in combat. A pilot who shoots down five aircraft is called an ace. The First World War’s top ace was the German Baron Manfred von Richthofen (the “Red Baron”) with 80 victories. And then, during the Second World War, Erich Hartmann scored 352 kills. Erich Alfred Hartmann was born on April 19, 1922 in Weissach, Germany. He was taught to fly gliders by his mother, Elisabeth Hartmann, one of Germany’s first female glider pilots. In 1936, Elisabeth helped set up a flying school, and by age 15, Erich became a glider instructor in the school. In 1939, he gained his pilot’s licence. Shortly thereafter, the Second World War commenced. In October 1942, Hartmann was stationed at a fighter wing equipped with Messerschmitt Bf-109G aircraft, based on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. After intensive training, his superiors observed that although Hartmann had much to learn regarding air combat, he was indeed a gifted pilot. He claimed his first kill in November. As with many aces, it took him some time to learn to be a consistently victorious attacker. Thereafter, there was no looking back. On July 7, 1943, some huge dogfights occurred during the Battle of Kursk, during which Hartmann shot down seven enemy aircraft. By the start of August 1943, he had notched up 50 kills, and by the end of the month, he had added another 48. During the course of the War, Hartmann had to crash-land his damaged plane 14 times. Often the damage was sustained by flying through the debris of enemy aircraft he had just hit. On the other hand, he was never shot down or forced to land on account of being hit by enemy aircraft. However, once when his aircraft flew through the debris of an enemy plane, he had to land behind Soviet lines. Though he was captured, he managed to escape and soon returned to the cockpit. He passed the 200 kill mark on March 2, 1944, and the 300 mark on August 24, 1944—a day on which he
40 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
shot down 11 aircraft in two missions. But he was not finished. His final kill was achieved on May 8, 1945, the day the war in Europe ended. He thus became the supreme fighter ace in the history of
ERICH HARTMANN (1922-1993)
By the age of 23, he had notched up a stunning 352 aerial victories in 1,404 combat missions, during which he actually engaged in aerial combat 825 times. This record will probably be invincible for all time to come. Of his kills, 260 were ﬁghter aircraft
aerial warfare. He was decorated several times. Understandably, the Soviets nicknamed him “The Black Devil.” Hartmann was ordered to fly to the British sector and surrender before them, in order to escape the advancing Soviet forces. However, he would not desert his men. The captured Germans (including families) were vilely treated. In an attempt to force Hartmann to serve with the Soviet-friendly East Germans, he was convicted on trumped-up war
crimes charges. He was sentenced to 25 years of hard labour and spent 10 years in various Soviet prison camps until he was released in 1955, thanks to a prisoner exchange. When he returned home, Hartmann joined the West German Air Force, and commanded its first all-jet unit. He died on September 20, 1993. For the record, he was posthumously exonerated of war crimes by a Russian court. Will there ever be another Erich Hartmann nicknamed Bubi (little boy) by his comrades? By the age of 23, he had notched up a stunning 352 aerial victories in 1,404 combat missions, during which he actually engaged in aerial combat 825 times. This record will probably be invincible for all time to come. Of his kills, 260 were fighter aircraft. His spectacular feats did not go unchallenged by Luftwaffe headquarters. His kill claims were stringently rechecked, and his performance closely monitored by official observers flying in his formation. However, reduce the tally by 50 or even a 100 and does it make any difference? Actually, the Soviet pilots were just not qualified to take on the vastly superior Luftwaffe opponents and were offered as cannon fodder to the attacking Germans. Be that as it may, any fighter pilot will testify that it isn’t at all simple to hit a banner being towed straight and level for target practice, leave alone a sharply manoeuvring enemy aircraft. Hartmann was an expert practitioner of stalk-and-ambush tactics. He relied on his potent Bf-109G fighter for high-power sweeps and rapid approaches, sometimes diving through large enemy formations to take advantage of the confusion that followed in order to disengage. His innate talents—excellent eyesight, lightning reflexes, an aggressive spirit, and an ability to stay cool while in combat—made the difference. He is reputed to have said, “Get close... when he fills the entire windscreen... then you can’t possibly miss.” He hardly ever missed. After all, how many fighter pilots have been taught to fly by their mothers? SP —Group Captain (Retd) Joseph Noronha, Goa
There was a time when Air India was the pride of the country and its standards of service were among the best in the world. Now it lurches from crisis to crisis.
GLORIFIED: AIR INDIA’S A320 AIRCRAFT
PHOTOGRAPH: ABHISHEK / SP GUIDE PUBNS
mall things can tell a big tale. Patel, Minister for Civil Aviation, “The By Group Captain (Retd) Take last month’s payment worst is over and Air India is continuing Joseph Noronha, Goa of salary to Air India staff. on a path of recovery.” His belief rests on The salaries for March were the fact that airline losses are showing a disbursed on April 7, late by declining trend—Rs 300 crore a month. a few days. No big deal. It But in 2009-2010 alone, Air India inwasn’t the first time either. Last June, curred a loss of Rs 5,400 crore, and the salaries were delayed by a fortnight due total losses have ballooned up to Rs. to paucity of funds. But for the national 12,774 crore. The carrier is sitting on a carrier—Maharaja, the bearer of the Indian flag and one-time mountain of debt—Rs 15,241 crore as of last June. According envy of many renowned airlines—it is a sad indicator of just to estimates, the government may have to pump in Rs 5,000 how low it has fallen. There was a period when Air India was crore annually for the next few years, just to keep it afloat. But the pride of the country and its standards of service among in a country where only two per cent of the population travel the best in the world. Now it lurches from crisis to crisis. It is by air, keeping an airline going—even if it happens to be the numbered among potential defaulters on payments made to national carrier—is hardly an aam admi consideration. the Airports Authority of India and the oil companies. It is livIs the worst really over? Air India is certainly benefitting ing from hand to mouth. In what shape is an organisation that from the recent surge in domestic passenger traffic, a 20.54 cannot even pay its personnel on time? per cent rise during January-March. It is tempting to think that this growth will last forever. But air traffic is notoriously MOUNTAIN OF DEBT prone to “shocks” and the recent volcanic ash attack is only Optimists, however, have a different view. According to Praful the latest in a series. Consider an eminently possible spike
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 41
in the price of a barrel of oil to $100 (Rs 4,425) or more. That would again send the airline’s operating bill skyrocketing and scotch hopes of early recovery. Acts of God and OPEC vagaries, however, are hardly the reason for the plight of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL). Many believe the root cause is the injudicious order that NACIL’s erstwhile components—Air India and Indian Airlines— placed for 111 airliners in 2006. The bill is estimated at Rs 44,000 crore, though some fear it could cross Rs 55,000 crore. NACIL may have to pay Rs 22,000 crore for deliveries this year against Rs 12,000 crore last year. It has reportedly borrowed about Rs 25,000 crore already, and interest payments will only add to its burden. The pain at present may be inevitable for gain in future. But it is sad that for years after these new aircraft have been inducted, NACIL may suffer from substantial excess capacity. And what of the resulting plethora of aircraft types—ATR 42, CRJ700, A320, B737NG, A310, B777, B747-400 and B787 on order—hardly conducive to operational, maintenance or logistical efficiency? Consider the stark contrast with the huge US Southwest Airlines fleet—537 aircraft, all B737 variants. The newly reconstituted NACIL Board recently appointed a Chief Operating Officer on a monthly salary of about Rs 20 lakh, plus allowances and perks. What an airline pays its executives should ordinarily be its own affair. But for a severely cash-strapped organisation this easily becomes a PR disaster. What about the allegations of flights diverted to ferry IPL teams? And the long list of freebies and perks offered to serving and retired airline and government functionaries? More small things that tell a big tale.
TURNAROUND AND AROUND MARRIAGES MADE IN HEAVEN
In August last year, egged on by the Indian Government, NACIL came up with a turnaround plan. However, the plan met with scant success, saving less than half the projected amount. The government has now demanded another revival roadmap, based on which it will decide whether the airline gets more money or not. It is unlikely that the second plan will fare any better than the first. Indeed, Air India’s options to reduce expenses seem limited. A common misconception is that trimming its bloated workforce is a solution. Apart from the obvious difficulty of firing employees in India, the scope for reducing losses through wage cuts or staff reductions is limited, since wages account for just 16 per cent of an airline’s costs. Even now, Air India breaks even on very few routes. So why not drop some unprofitable ones? Because this would render a large part of its fleet and workforce surplus to requirement. Unprofitable operations, unfortunately, have a logic and life of their own. The carrier has ambitious plans to slash its 150strong fleet to around 105 aircraft by March next. But it may not easily find parties to buy or lease so many airliners. Privatisation is also proposed as a way to end Air India’s troubles. This begs the question that who would invest in an airline in such dire straits? Besides, private airlines are hardly trouble free. Ask Kingfisher Airlines or Paramount Airways. Public sector enterprises are not incapable of making profit. Many have successfully weathered post-liberalisation competition and are doing better than ever. Since 2001, while Air India made a profit every year until 2006-2007, Indian Airlines made a profit in three out of six years.
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Another burning issue is whether Air India’s ill-starred 2007 marriage with Indian—rather unfairly blamed for the airlines’ present predicament—should go to the courts for divorce. Well, so far, there is hardly a merger worth the name, since the carrier’s international and domestic operations continue to function under different codes—AI and IC. Two Parliamentary committees recently agreed that Air India’s domestic and international wings should be separated, but they should remain under a single holding firm NACIL. Fortunately, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, after doggedly persisting with the messy merger, seems to have come around to a similar viewpoint. He now believes that NACIL should operate as a merged entity, but with two verticals of the domestic and the international wings—under one brand and under one code. Operating with a single code, Air India becomes eligible to join the Star Alliance. Hopefully, within a year, Air India passengers will be able to connect seamlessly on flights of other airlines. If the government really hopes to see Air India regain its former glory, it must put its money where its mouth is. It infused Rs 800 crore during 2009-2010, which increased the airline’s paltry equity base to a more respectable Rs 945 crore. Another Rs 1,200 crore is budgeted this year, although its release is linked to achievement of specified targets. A group of ministers will shortly take a call on Air India’s future. Rather than routine fire fighting, it would help if it is dealt with the situation holistically. P a r a d o x i c a l l y, Air India’s salvation probably lies in being set free; to fly or fail. Constant government interference in decisionmaking is often cited as the root cause of its seeming inability to come to grips with its problems in a professional manner. Unless the freshly reconstituted board can take its own decisions and implement them, the airline cannot hope for a turnaround. With just 18.2 per cent market share, it is currently in the third place and could easily find itself in the fourth position in the near future. That, in itself, is no cause for gloominess. A profitable carrier with lower market share is any day preferable to a loss-making one with a larger share. Can Air India successfully overcome the many challenges that beset it? In the current Indian aviation setting, the airline’s failure would hardly be earth-shattering. But it deserves one last chance, with “last” being the keyword. If there’s one public functionary the airline must be fond of right now, it is probably Sitaram Yechury, Head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture. “Air India’s huge losses are because of the irrational decisions of the government,” he recently declared. He suggests that the government write off the airline’s Rs 12,774 crore losses and begin afresh. There is merit in the proposal. And, yes, no more of government interference please. It may be Air India’s only hope of survival. SP
Paradoxically , Air India’s salvation probably lies in being set free to ﬂy or fail
Alenia Aeronautica is eyeing the Indian market with its C-27J aircraft.
DYNAMIC MACHINE: C-27J OFFERS A VERY COMPATIBLE AND FUTURISTIC SOLUTIONS
PHOTOGRAPH: ALENIA AERONAUTICA
he Indian defence budget has reached about $27 billion (Rs 121,900 crore) in 2010 from about $22 billion (Rs 99,300 crore) in 2008. The Indian defence market has tremendous potential for growth with the government aspiring to procure specific technological capabilities for the development of an autonomous aerospace industry. Alenia Aernoautica is positive about being a part of the growing defence market. Alenia Aeronautica is participating with its own C-27J in the tender for two tactical transport aircraft for the Border Security Force. The tender is being handled by the Indian Air Force that will also assure its initial operational use. The C-27J aircraft will help secure the country’s mountainous borders and has during a series of tests proved to be extremely performing. The C-27J is capable of taking off from and landing on unprepared air strips, less-than-500 m long, with maximum take-off weight of 30,500 kg; it may carry up to 60 equipped soldiers or up to 46 paratroopers. Its air ambulance configuration can have 36 stretchers and 6 medical assistants. The large cross section (2,60 metres high, 3,33 metres wide) and high floor strength (4,900 kg/m load capability) allows loading of heavy and large complete military equipment. The C-27J can transport fighter and transport aircraft engines, those of C-130, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 and Mi-
The C-27J can transport ﬁghter and transport aircraft engines, such as C-130, Euroﬁghter Typhoon, F-16 and Mirage 2000, directly on their normal engine dollies without special equipment.
rage 2000, directly on their normal engine dollies without the need for special equipment. The last-generation technology applied to the C-27J is an important characteristic as it assures huge savings in infrastructure investments, in the operating costs of spare parts, stores and pilots and training of technicians. The IAF has recently expressed interest in the C-27J through a request for information (RFI) for 16 airplanes. SP
Issue 5 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 43
for development and growth of the IAF taking into account the security environment and technological advancements. Tejas LSP-3 maiden flight that MiG series aircraft constitute bulk of the combat fleet of the IAF. A total number of 21 MiG series aircraft have crashed during the last three years. Besides the loss of aircraft, four pilots were killed in these accidents and no civilian was killed/injured. Maintenance of MiG series fleet is based on the maintenance philosophy prescribed by the original equipment manufacturer as given in the Maintenance Manuals and evolved with practical experience of flying in IAF over the years. The spare parts of MiG series aircraft are procured through Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and indigenous vendors as per policies in vogue ensuring adequate quality control. The trainees are undergoing fully stipulated duration/training in their flying courses. Phasing out of a particular aircraft and its replacement is decided based on operational requirements of IAF. Training to air force pilots Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a written reply in the Lok Sabha has stated that the IAF trainee pilots have not proceeded to Stage–II training without undergoing the basic Stage-I training. After a fatal accident on the HPT-32 aircraft on July 31, 2009, a decision was taken by Air Headquarters to ground the HPT-32 aircraft fleet. Stage-I of flying training is now being imparted on Kiran MK-I aircraft. Currently, trainees are undergoing full stipulated duration/training of their flying courses on Kiran trainer aircraft. The replacement of a fleet, including trainer fleet, is decided based on operational requirements of IAF which is an ongoing process. Necessary steps are taken accordingly from time to time. Hawk MK-132 (advance jet trainer) induction into the IAF commenced in 2008 with the aim to completely replace the Kiran MK-II/MiG-21 route of training for Stage–III. A total of 66 Hawk MK-132 aircraft have been contracted. Of these, 24 had been directly supplied by BAES from UK and the remaining 42 are being licence manufactured by HAL. All 24 direct supply
P-8I indigenous equipment Boeing has announced that it has received a key communications technology for the Indian Navy’s P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in April, one month ahead of schedule. BEL delivered the Indiandesigned Data Link II, a communications system that will enable exchange of tactical data and messages between Indian Navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments. Boeing will install the system during P-8I final assembly at its facility in Renton, Washington. Data Link II is the first Indianmanufactured item delivered to Boeing as part of the P-8I programme. The P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing designed and is building for the US Navy. BEL’s delivery of the state-of-the-art electronics will support P-8I test and integration activities in Seattle. BEL will deliver the last of the data link components by the end of 2011. Boeing will deliver the first of eight P-8I aircraft to India within 48 months of the original contract signing, which took place in January 2009. Squadron strength of IAF Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a written reply in the Indian Parliament has stated that the government constantly reviews the security environment to ensure adequate defence preparedness and combat strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF is in the process of modernising its fleet by procuring various aircraft including the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, the medium multirole combat aircraft, the indigenous light combat aircraft, aircraft warning & control system aircraft, and fifth generation fighter aircraft to increase its combat strength. In addition to the above procurements, the existing fleet of MiG-29, An-32 and IL-76 are undergoing life extension. The IAF has prepared a long-term perspective plan 2012-2027 which provides the roadmap
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AEROJET • Aerojet, a GenCorp company and its Russian partner United Engine Corporation (UEC) have signed a cooperation agreement regarding their next steps in the companies’ cooperative efforts to provide NK-33 and AJ26 rocket engines to the commercial launch market. Aerojet currently provides the AJ26 rocket engine for the first-stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II launcher. UEC provides the NK-33 to Russian Federation customers. Both Aerojet and UEC are offering AJ26 and modern NK-33 engines to additional customers in the United States and Russia, respectively. AGUSTAWESTLAND • AgustaWestland has delivered three new helicopters to customers in Japan in recent weeks highlighting its continued growth in this important market. The three new helicopters include the first AW119 Ke to be delivered in Japan. ALENIA AERMACCHI • Alenia Aermacchi and EADS Defence and Security have submitted a joint response to the request for information (RFI) issued by the European Defence Agency about the Advanced European Jet Pilot Training (AEJPT) programme. Subsequently a memorandum of understanding between AAEM and DS was signed. Bringing synergy to their individual competencies, Alenia Aermacchi and DS can now offer a comprehensive training solution for future combat aircraft pilots which meets the expectations of EDA and the AEJPT nations. ALLIANT TECHSYSTEMS • Alliant Techsystems has announced that it has received a contract in excess of $240 million from Lockheed Martin to produce additional composite components for low rate initial production (LRIP) lots 4-8 of the F-35 Lightning II–or Joint Strike Fighter. Under the terms of the contract, ATK will use advanced fibre-placement technology to provide upper wing-box skins, lower wing-box skins and engine nacelle skins for the conventional take-off and landing, and short takeoff/vertical landing variants of the F-35. Production will begin this year and continue through 2015.
Limited series production (LSP)-3 aircraft is the ninth test vehicle to join the flight line to undertake development flight trials of the light combat aircraft Tejas towards operational clearance for induction in the IAF by the end of the year. The LSP-3 is a quantum jump in terms of the equipment fit on the aircraft. It is almost the final configuration including the new airdata computers, multi-mode radar, new communication and navigation equipment and radar warning receiver. BrahMos missile Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a written reply in the Lok Sabha has stated that on the approval of the government to induct the BrahMos missile into the Indian Air Force (IAF), a contract has recently been signed for the production and induction of one squadron of land attack version of the BrahMos in mobile complex. The government has also approved development of air launched version of the BrahMos missile to be fitted on Su-30 MK1 to be ready in 2012. BrahMos supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia is a world leader in the cruise missile family. The missile has a range of 290 km, weighs 3 tonnes, and flies at a maximum speed of 2.8 times the speed of sound. It is configured for multiple platforms like ships, submarines and road mobile launchers. For the air launched version, the missile has been modified with a reduced weight of 2.5 tonnes. Phasing out of MiG aircraft Defence Minister A.K. Antony has stated in the Lok Sabha
Issue 5 • 2010
Sabha, stated that the Report of the Group of Ministers on national security has six chapters. The Ministry of Defence has been designated as the nodal ministry for implementation of Chapters VI on Management of Defence, which contains 75 recommendations. Out of these, 63 recommendations have been implemented and action on four is in various stages of progress. Eight recommendations of the report relate to the establishment of Chief of Defence Staff. A decision on this matter would be taken after completion of the ongoing consultations with political parties. The HQ Integrated Defence Staff has been created to enhance jointness and build synergy amongst the armed forces, including in the areas of long-term plans, force capabilities, joint training, intelligence, capital acquisition, joint doctrines, etc. The Andaman & Nicobar Command has been created to exercise control over tri-service and Coast Guard assets deployed in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and joint exercises/operations are being carried out.
AIRBUS Antonio Rodriguez Barberan has been appointed Senior Vice President Commercial of Airbus Military. In his new function, he will be responsible for all activities related to the marketing, sales, contracting and customer liaison of Airbus Military’s very comprehensive and versatile military and civic transport product range. GENERAL DYNAMICS The board of directors of General Dynamics has unanimously elected Jay L. Johnson as its Chairman. Johnson will serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the corporation. Johnson succeeds Nicholas D. Chabraja, who has served as Chairman since 1997. General Dynamics has selected James S. Crown, to serve as lead Director He is the board’s first lead director. PRATT & WHITNEY Pratt & Whitney Canada has named Maria Della Posta Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing. Prior to assuming her new role Della Posta was Vice-President of Customer Service. SAAB Saab has appointed Hakan Buskhe as new President and CEO. Buskhe will take up his position on November 1, 2010 at the latest. Håkan Buskhe is currently CEO of E.ON Sweden and President of E.ON Nordic, with operations in the Nordic countries and in Poland. SELEX The SELEX Galileo Inc. Board of Directors has announced that James Giles Kyser, IV has accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer, taking over from Acting CEO, Wayne Landman. GULFSTREAM Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. has named Mark Thibault as Regional Director, Product Support Programmes. He is based in Hong Kong. Thibault will be responsible for overseeing all product support efforts for Gulfstream aircraft fleet operators in Asia. His duties include coordinating aircraft maintenance and support requirements for Gulfstream operators located in or traveling through Asia, and supervising the growth of the Gulfstream support network. CESSNA Cessna Aircraft Company has announced that company Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton has been named by US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to the department’s Future of Aviation advisory committee. The Future of Aviation Advisory Committee was formally established in March to provide information, advice, and recommendations to the secretary on ensuring the competitiveness of the US aviation industry and its capability to address the evolving transportation needs, challenges and opportunities of the national and global economy. Pelton is the only member of the committee representing general aviation. aircraft have been delivered at AF Station Bidar by December 2008. Aerospace power During the Air Force Commanders’ conference held in New Delhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony stated that the recently demonstrated precision strike capabilities of the IAF would go a long way in ensuring national security. Addressing the top brass of the IAF, he said, “In the years to come, aerospace power will prove to be the decisive factor in shaping the outcome of conflicts.” Kargil review committee Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a written reply in the Lok
ASTRIUM • The in-flight acceptance of the Helios IIB satellite has been successfully completed by Astrium on behalf of the French Defence Procurement Agency and under delegation from the French space agency, CNES. Helios IIB will now enter its operational phase serving the partner countries France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany. CNES will be responsible for in orbit operations. BAE SYSTEMS • BAE Systems has opened its new engineering hub in Melbourne that will integrate the company’s aerospace, autonomous systems and guided weapons research into a single facility. The company’s new engineering centre at Richmond will accommodate more than 300 BAE Systems employees. BOEING • The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has begun a series of extreme-weather tests at Valparaiso. A special hangar at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Elgin Air Force Base allows the airplane to experience heat as high as 115 degrees fahrenheit (46 degree celsius) and as low as minus 45 degrees fahrenheit (minus 43 celsius). BOMBARDIER • Bombardier Aerospace has announced that it has delivered its 201st amphibious aircraft, a Bombardier 415 fire fighting aircraft, to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Bombardier 415 aircraft is the latest in a long line of amphibious aircraft that were designed, manufactured and supported by Bombardier Aerospace. In an average mission of six nautical miles (11 km) distance from water to fire, it can complete nine drops within an hour and deliver 14,589 US gallons (55,233 litres) of fire suppressant. DARPA • The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced that it has launched its Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2). Preliminary review of technical data indicates the Minotaur Lite launch system successfully delivered the Falcon HTV-2 glide vehicle to the desired
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Harvest HAWK phase-I tests
The Harvest HAWK equipped KC-130J Hercules completed Phase-I testing and then left for the West Coast for required maintenance and to continue testing on NAVAIR’s ranges at China Lake, California. Harvest HAWK is a modular rollon, roll-off weapons system for the KC-130J consisting of a fire control console in the aircraft’s cargo compartment, the target sight sensor mounted in the left under wing fuel tank and a launcher for four Hellfire missiles mounted on the left hand refueling pylon. NAVAIR is working a complimentary effort to test and deploy the standoff precision guided munition (SOPGM) as a stand-alone capability.
Issue 5 • 2010
Poland, Czech Republic and Turkey. The exercise was based on a NATO-guided Crisis Response Operation mission. A specifically conceived simulated scenario was created for the occasion to represent a build up of international tensions between states, worsened by internal uprisings and degenerating into a conflict situation between two hostile countries and their allies. C-27J Spartan aircraft ability by providing lifecycle business solutions, materials and engineering services, and 24/7 global customer support. Boeing was awarded a Breakthrough Technology Award by Aviation Week magazine when Toolbox was introduced in October 2005. Till date, 66 customers are signed to use the tool. Available via an Internet browser as a secured, hosted service, Toolbox provides reliable access to all of its tools through MyBoeingFleet.com, Boeing’s Internet portal.
26 May – 27 May HELI & UV PACIFIC 2010 RACV Royal Pines Resort, Queensland, Australia www.shephard.co.uk 28 May – 30 May AEROEXPO EUROPE Pribram Airfield, Prague, www.expo.aero 2 June – 4 June LOW COST AIRLINES WORLD AMERICAS Westin Colonnade, Coral Gables, FL www.terrapinn.com 8 June – 13 June ILA BERLIN AIR SHOW 2010 Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport www.ila-berlin.de 14 June – 18 June EUROSATORY 2010 Paris www.eurosatory.com 25 June – 27 June AEROEXPO UK Wycombe Air Park, UK www.expo.aero/london 22 June – 23 June MILITARY HELICOPTER ASIA Rendezvous Hotel, Singapore www.militaryhelicopterasia.com 19 July – 25 July FARNBOROUGH INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW Farnborough, Hampshire, UK www.farnborough.com
separation conditions. The launch vehicle executed first of its kind energy management manoeuvres, clamshell payload fairing release and HTV-2 deployment. INDIA • Finland Defence Minister Jyri Hakamies was on a visit to India in April. During his visit, he expressed his desire to enhance cooperation with India in the field of Defence Production and Defence Research & Development. He also discussed the regional security situation with his Indian counterpart, when he called on Defence Minister A.K. Antony. Both the ministers shared their perspectives on UN peacekeeping operations also. Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha has stated that the Government is not planning to make provision for 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence production sector. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha stated that there are 29 abandoned airfields of the Indian Air Force spread across eleven states in the country. Review of abandoned airfields for revival is an ongoing process and is based on the operational assessment/requirement of the IAF. No funds have been allocated nor utilised during 2008-09 and 200910 for maintenance and revival of abandoned airfields. ILS • International Launch Services (ILS), a leading launch services provider for the global commercial satellite industry, successfully carried the SES1 satellite directly into geostationary orbit on an ILS Proton for SES WORLD SKIES, an SES company. The SES-1 satellite was also the 22nd consecutive successful Proton launch in 21 months. The Proton Breeze M launch vehicle was developed and built by Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, one of the pillars of the Russian space industry and the majority shareholder in ILS. ITALY • Representatives from the Italian Air Force and Navy visited the 33rd Fighter Wing (FW) to check the progress of the first F-35 Lightning II integrated training centre and
GTX-35 for Tejas out The GTX-35 appears to be on the verge of cancellation and might be replaced by another engine on the light combat aircraft (LCA). In early 2008, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation had teamed with Snecma to help complete development of the Kaveri for the LCA programme. GE provided its F404-GE-IN20 engine for LCA prototypes and the initial series-production aircraft. Flight testing showed the F404 had insufficient thrust and didn’t meet the design specifications, so the search for a higher thrust engine began. Two potential candidates are being considered: GE’s F414 and Eurojet’s EJ200. The commonality between the F404 and F414 gives it the upper hand, as it would minimise the programme delay. The IAF reportedly needs 88 Tejas fighters by 2017 to replace the large number of MiG-21s being phased out. The IAF schedule calls for the Tejas to reach initial operational capability by the end of 2010 and full capability by 2012. Delay in supply of AJTs Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha has stated that delivery of 42 Hawk-AJT aircraft was scheduled from 2007-2008 to 2010-2011 in a phased manner. Three aircraft were to be built from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits, three from completely knocked down (CKD)
Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, has performed the Ferry Flight to the Romanian Air Forces of the first two of seven C-27J tactical transport aircraft ordered in December 2007. The C-27Js, which will replace the existing Antonov aircraft, landed on April 12 at the 90th Transport Air Base at Bucharest-Otopeni Airport, where the handing over ceremony took place. The event was attended by Major General Ion-Aurel Stanciu, Chief of the Romanian Air Forces, and Giuseppe Giordo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alenia North America Inc. and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Alenia Aeronautica.
Italian Eurofighters The six Italian Eurofighter Typhoons from the fourth air wing of Grosseto’s Air Force base, redeployed to Laage, in North Germany, have flown a total of 68 sorties and 140 flight hours, with a 94 per cent operational availability, during their participation in the NATO driven Brilliant Ardent 10. The exercise took place over the Baltic Sea between April 12-22, managed by the Allied Air Command of Izmir, in Turkey and saw the participation of around 60 aircraft from Italy, the US, Germany, France,
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Maintenance productivity Boeing and Blue Dart Aviation have announced that Boeing Commercial Aviation Services will provide maintenance performance toolbox for the airline’s Boeing 757-200 freighter fleet. Toolbox, a key Boeing lifecycle solution element, is a software-based productivity tool designed to unify an airline’s maintenance data, enhancing accessibility and providing greater efficiency in maintenance and engineering operations.Toolbox enhances customer profit-
Issue 5 • 2010
their F-136 engine for the JSF. The offer intends to create and accelerate competition between the JSF programme’s two engine suppliers and to shift the risk of cost overruns from the government to defence contractors. With this offer, GE and Rolls-Royce assume the risk of meeting or beating price targets for early production engines while creating a competitive behaviour to drive lower costs as the learning curve phase of production must be achieved earlier. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme creates the perfect opportunity—a multi-role aircraft replacing numerous tactical fighter aircraft, with potential production for the US Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers to reach 5,000 to 6,000 aircraft over 30 years. hai Electric Group of Companies (S.E.C.) for the supply of one AE 94.2 gas turbine to be installed in the Sylhet Power Station (Bangladesh). Pratt & Whitney and Irkut Pratt & Whitney and Russia’s Irkut Corporation have signed a contract for the companies to begin preliminary design activities on the Pratt & Whitney PurePower® PW1400G engine, which was selected to power the Irkut MC-21 aircraft. The contract represents the beginning of the development of the third airframe application for the PurePower engine, which will provide customers a significant reduction in fuel burn and noise with lower environmental emissions and operating costs than today’s engines.
kits and 36 from raw material phase. The CKD and SKD kits were assembled on schedule. When production in raw material phase was taken up, it was found that the equipment supplied by the OEM had various shortcomings. The assembly jigs that were supplied did not meet the requirements, there was mismatch in the kits/components supplied, there were defects in major assemblies like the wing spar, etc.
learn more about this new coalition venture. Italy’s military is one of several partner nations that will be training joint strike fighter pilots and maintainers at the 33rd FW. PRATT & WHITNEY • Pratt & Whitney’s F100 production is expected to cease in 2012, by which time approximately 7,700 engines will have been built. Late orders from Pakistan, South Korea and Greece will keep the line going into 2012, after which production will be limited to replacement parts, aside from any replacement engine orders. Considering the size of the world’s F100 fleet, replacement parts could amount to a lot of business for P&W. ROYAL AIR FORCE • The Royal Air Force’s Reaper programme has achieved another milestone in April when it completed more than 10,000 hours of armed over-watch in support of UK and Coalition forces in Afghanistan. Reaper provides a continuous armed Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability. Since November 2009, Reaper has been supporting operations 24 hours a day and more Reaper UAVs are planned to be delivered later this year. SAAB • The second surveillance aircraft, Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control), has been delivered to Pakistan. The aircraft will now carry out its final tests in Pakistan which will focus on verifying the radar system. The first aircraft was delivered to the Pakistan Air Force in December last year. The order covers a number of Saab 2000 aircraft with the airborne early warning radar system Erieye as well as ground based systems and a comprehensive logistics and support package. SWEDEN • The Swedish government has decided to acquire new tactical UAV system for the Swedish armed forces. Sweden will have an expanded capacity to support military forces in various operations both at home and abroad with various kinds of intelligence. Currently, Sweden is operating the French-built “Owl” tactical UAV.
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Finmeccanica wins contract Finmeccanica has won contracts with a total value of more than EUR 140 million through its companies DRS, SELEX Sistemi Integrati, SELEX Galileo, SELEX Communications and Ansaldo Energia. DRS Technical Services Inc., a DRS Defence Solutions company, through its maritime and security solutions business unit, was awarded a contract worth up to $100 million to enhance and expand the US customs and border protection (CBP) agency’s license plate reader (LPR) programme. SELEX Sistemi Integrati signed a contract worth $9 million with the Civil Aviation Administration of China. SELEX Galileo announces its successful participation in the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD)’s Project Baker. The Company has been awarded contracts worth in excess of £10 million as part of an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) to provide an integrated defensive aids system for the RAF’s Chinook Mk2 and Mk3 helicopters. SELEX Communications has won a contract worth EUR 4,7 million from the Italian Regione Veneto to supply a TETRA net for local police. Ansaldo Energia has won a contract worth approximately EUR 35 million from Shang-
Orbital Test Vehicle X-37B Boeing has announced the successful launch of the Boeingbuilt Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), also known as the X-37B, for the US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The OTV was launched on an Atlas V rocket into a low Earth orbit today at 7.52 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41.Teamwork between the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the United Launch Alliance Atlas team, and the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has made the launch a success. Mars only in 39 days NASA has developed Variable Specific Impulse Magneto Plasma Rocket (VASIMR), which can help reach Mars in only 39 days. It is an electric thruster with many unique advantages. In this technology gas such as argon, xenon or hydrogen are injected into a tube surrounded by a magnet and a series of two radio wave (RF) antennas called “couplers” turning cold gas into superheated plasma which is more than 20 times hotter than the solar surface and it uses the magnetic field instead of metal nozzles at the end of the rocket to control the direction of the exhaust. •
Northrop Grumman Corporation’s navigation products exceeded data collection and characterisation test objectives and provided excellent robust performance during recent flight tests for the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s automated aerial refueling (AAR) programme in conjunction with the Air Force Flight Test Center’s test operations combined test force, the 190th air refueling wing of the Kansas Air National Guard, and the Calspan Corporation. Fixed price offer
General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce have announced that they have offered to the Pentagon a fixed price offer on
Issue 5 • 2010
India’s desperate and expensive bid to join the Star Alliance. Although Air India has a commitment to shell out Euros 10 million (Rs 60 crore) for the membership of Star Alliance, membership is not guaranteed. Induction of the new Directors on the Board and an expatriate CEO would undoubtedly raise hopes for the airline; but the problems that the airline is facing today are neither because of lack of competent individuals on the Board in the past nor the absence of an expatriate CEO. In the past, Air India has had on its Board as Chairman or Director, men of international standing with wide experience in the business world such as Russi Modi, Ratan Tata, Ajit Kerkar the then head of the Taj Group of Hotels, Suresh Keswani industrialist and Inder Sharma, Chief, Sita Travels. Despite their levels of individual competence and reputation in the corporate world, as part of the Board of Air India, none were really able to make any significant impact. The problem essentially is two-fold. First Air India is not run as a business enterprise with a profitable business model but as a department of the Central government afflicted with all the ills of the public sector such as overstaffing, low productivity, lack of efficiency and total job security. Second, the Board of Air India is vested with very little authority to take decisions and to mould the future of the organisation. Control of Air India actually lies with the Ministry of Civil Aviation where major decisions are taken and conveyed to the Board for implementation. Dissent is generally not welcome and those who do not fall in line or attempt to challenge the status quo, are discretely relieved of their responsibilities. Under these circumstances, the majority of Board members choose to accept the fait accompli and go through their tenure either merely savouring the perks of the appointment or in some cases, promoting the interest of their own parent companies. The need of the hour is complete autonomy for the management which is not likely unless the government is prepared to relinquish control of the airline. The writing on the wall for Air India is clear—perform or perish. SP — Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey
he deteriorating financial state of the national carrier Air India is beginning to cast ominous shadows on its continued viability and is raising serious doubts about its very survival. In the emerging economic environment, it is abundantly clear that the government would not be in a position to carry the financial burden of sustaining the airline for long. Presumably in response to the problem, the government has inducted five heavyweights to fulfil the requirement of five independent Directors on the Board of Air India. The Directors are Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra and Mahindra; Amit Mitra, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Harsh Neotia, industrialist; Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali H. Major, former Chief of the Air Staff; and Yusuf Ali, Managing Director of a Dubai-based Emke Group of Companies that run shopping malls, hypermarkets and department stores. The mandate before the newly constituted 15-member Board duly reinforced with the recently inducted five individuals of repute, would be expected to battle the challenges and turn the ailing airline around. As a first step, the new Board of Air India has defined a clear timeframe for the finalisation of a turnaround plan and has also selected Gustav Baldauf for appointment as the Chief Operating Officer (COO). A former employee of Austrian Airlines and in the recent past the Vice President (Flight Operations) in Jet Airways, Gustav Baldauf brings with him 25 years of experience in the aviation industry. The grim financial state of the airline is not an overnight development, but the result of mismanagement, flawed decisionmaking and cumulative neglect over several years. Major strategic blunders such as bulk order for 111 airliners valued at over Rs 50,000 crore with an equity base of a paltry Rs 145 crore, without proper assessment of the business potential and demand growth as also the expensive and fruitless exercise of merger of Air India and Indian, have been financially debilitating for the airline. Further, towards the latter part of last year, in an effort at restructuring mandated by the government for the airline to be eligible for financial support, Air India appointed a number of foreign consultants at enormous cost to help improve the operating efficiency. While the intention might have been noble, high profile foreign consultants do not necessarily provide cost -effective solutions. More often than not, their solutions are not easily affordable and hence may not be implementable. It is not surprising therefore that despite heavy investment in hiring the services of foreign consultants, there has been no perceptible change in the fortunes of the airline in the last few months. On the contrary, losses continue to mount and have now reached almost irredeemable levels. The financial distress has been compounded further by Air
48 SP’S AVIATION Issue 5 • 2010
The need of the hour is complete autonomy which is not likely unless the government is prepared to relinquish control of the airline
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