Over the years, the state has witnessed unprecedented growth of the aerospace industry and currently attracts more than 65 per cent of the investments taking place in the sector in India. Moreover, the future too holds big potential.
Karnataka is the undisputed leader of India’s aerospace industry. The beginning of the industry in the state could be traced back to the 1940s, when the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was established. HAL was followed by defence R&D and public sector institutions such as BHEL, NAL, GTRE, DRDO, BEML, ISRO, ADA and ADE among others.
Even since, the state has been the engine of growth for the aerospace industry in India. Having huge potential and offering tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs, Karnataka has witnessed unprecedented growth of the aerospace industry. Currently, the state attracts more than 65 per cent of the investments taking place in the sector in India.
Karnataka enjoys several advantages that make it a hub of the aerospace industry in India. They include the presence of several large defence Public Sector Units, numerous scientific and technical educational institutions, a number of research and development agencies and expertise in aerospace thanks to the presence of major aerospace organisations.
Other strong points of Karnataka include over 2,000 Small and Medium Enterprises engaged in specialized work for large PSUs, world-class software companies making it the Silicon Valley of India and heavy equipment manufacturers. Another advantage offered by the state is low cost of aerospace manufacturing and MRO activities compared to other areas in Asia and Middle East.
Karnataka also boasts of the maximum number of engineering graduates in the country. This signifies that talented human resources with required skill sets for the aerospace industry are always available. Similarly, there is a large opportunity for related services like ground handling and the manufacture of ground support equipment. Karnataka is also blessed by an excellent location, efficient telecommunications network and other good basic facilities. Bangalore’s proximity to industrial hubs like Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai, and road, rail and air connectivity also have spurred the growth of the aerospace industry in Karnataka.
In addition, a generally peaceful state that embraces different cultures, favorable climate, congenial atmosphere for private investors, cosmopolitan lifestyle and excellent health care and education facilities also provide a suitable environment for industry to thrive.
One more major factor contributing to Karnataka’s status as India’s aerospace capital is that state governments over the years have always implemented investor-friendly policies. In order to create an effective aerospace ecosystem, the state government involves the private sector also and has established Special Economic Zones. A large number of new companies are launching their operations on the outskirts of Bangalore, in key industrial belts surrounding the city and in north Karnataka. Even amid economic crisis situations, Karnataka’s investor-friendly governments have simplified procedures and fast-tracked business approvals through a single window clearance mechanism. All these factors combine to make the state an extremely attractive destination for the aerospace industry.
Among the industrial units that spur the aerospace success story of Karnataka, HAL has pride of place. A government-owned firm, the Bangalore-based HAL is one of the largest aerospace companies in Asia. Under the Ministry of Defence, HAL is involved in all aspects of aerospace production such as design, manufacture, assembly and overhaul of aircraft, helicopters, jet engines, design and fabrication of spare-parts of aircraft, navigation and communication devices related to the sector and operations of airports. The company has tie-ups with several international and domestic aerospace agencies and exports its products to more than 20 countries.
National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is another significant aerospace agency based in Karnataka. Established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1959 at Delhi, the firm’s headquarter was shifted to Bangalore in 1960. NAL is engaged in developing aerospace technologies, design, development and manufacturing of light and medium-sized civil aircraft and development of all-composite trainer aircraft. The firm also has facilities for inspecting accidents and failures in aerospace.
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), set up in 1984, is yet another leading aerospace firm having its headquarters in Karnataka. Managed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), ADA is the nodal agency responsible for the design and development of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). ADA has engaged in a partnership with HAL to convert the country’s dream project into reality.
Among the agency’s activities are developing advanced software for avionics, systems, independent validation and verification, flight simulation, computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided engineering (CAE). The agency’s research and development efforts are materialized into production by partnership with leading multinational companies such as Airbus, Dassault Systemes, Boeing and Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), among others.
A bright future
With the Karnataka government considering the development of the aerospace sector as its top priority, the industry is still attracting large investments. Experts have stressed that the future of aerospace in the state is bright.
Recognizing that it needs expertise from foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for the successful development of commercial and defence aircraft, India is engaged in introducing several reforms. These measures are expected to create a better environment and offer more opportunities for growth in the aerospace sector. No wonder, the state government is promoting Karnataka as the aerospace hub of not only the country but also Asia.