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‘Priority Is To Meet Armed Forces’ Needs’

Pierre de Bausset, president & MD, Airbus Group India, talks to BW Businessworld about his group’s priorities

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Pierre de Bausset, president & MD, Airbus Group India, talks to BW Businessworld about his group’s priorities. Edited excerpts:

On India as a producing base...
In 2015, we procured over $500 million of aero-structures, detail parts and systems, materials, cabins and engineering and IT services for a wide range of product, mostly civil but also military including A320neo, A350 XWB, A380, A330, C295W, A400M, etc. All of these produced from over 45 Indian suppliers — both publicly and privately owned, and all supporting 6,000 skilled jobs here. As a result, every Airbus commercial aircraft produced today is partly Made in India. Our procurement from India has grown exponentially.

On Make in India...
We were the first foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to appoint a dedicated Make in India officer — Ashish Saraf, a senior Indian executive with experience in setting up greenfield industrial projects in aviation — to drive our Make in India initiatives and conceive new ones. In a nutshell, Make in India occupies the front and centre of our business strategy.

On future products and partnerships...
We have proposed several Make in India projects. We have joined hands with TASL in our bid to supply 56 C295W military transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force in an Avro replacement programme. The evaluation of our proposal is ongoing. We have completed the field and maintenance evaluations trials of the aircraft.

On the helicopters’ side, we have teamed up with Mahindra Defence to produce military helicopters locally and bid as the prime contractor for the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter, the Naval Utility Helicopter, and the Naval Multirole Helicopter. We are proposing the AS565 MBe ‘Panther’ for the NUH programme and have announced our intention to set up an assembly line for the ‘Panther’ in India, in case we are awarded the contract.

On priorities...
Our priority right now is to meet the requirements of the Indian Armed Forces, and that is the reason we are here. We are offering to set up the final assembly lines in India for our C295W military transport aircraft as well as for the ‘Panther’ helicopter. And the first step will be to use these production lines to fulfil the Indian requirements.

On business targets...
Our business goals are to extend our leadership position in the commercial aircraft market, where we have 70 per cent share; to play a leading role in developing new segments in the civil and para-public helicopter market such as Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, search and rescue, heli-tourism, etc.; to procure more from India, where its industry offers particular skills and value for cost, not only to boost our contribution to Make in India, but also because it contributes to our global competitiveness; to establish a final assembly line for our C295W military transport aircraft with Tata, and with Mahindra for the ‘Panther’ military helicopter with an appropriate ecosystem of suppliers; and to increase our engineering and innovation footprint.