Plane taking off

View from India: Collaboration is the key to a cleaner aerospace sector

The future of aviation is propelling towards carbon neutrality.

Green manufacturing is being adopted across industries on a global scale. In the aerospace and defence industry too, the accent is on green or decarbonisation.

However, lowering the carbon footprint could mean that the entire ecosystem may need an overhaul. The raw material may need to be treated to be environment friendly. Generally, products and components are shipped and distributed across geographies. Maritime transport may have to be realigned or streamlined for achieving carbon neutrality. Perhaps every segment of the logistics chain and all that it takes to create an aircraft may have to be redefined. Emissions may be lowered by adopting newer technologies. Digital twins and additive manufacturing may help reconfigure product design. Probably clean clear skies may drive aerospace manufacturers to vertically integrate their operations and support the environment. This is not just a trend; it could be here to stay. After all, keeping the atmosphere clean is a global concern. So it’s not just confined to a particular place or aircraft.

Another determining factor is that of collaborations. These already exist, but we may see many more, as geographies synergise to design and engineer flights of the future. What draws attention is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed in Bangalore earlier in the week. Ferra Aerospace India, through Queensland-based Ferra Engineering Australia, has entered a contractual agreement with Bangalore-based Dynamatic Technologies to enhance their scale and capabilities in strategic aerospace manufacturing. What could it mean in terms of aerospace and defence technologies? It could lead to collaboration on product integration, testing, technology development of airframe structures and precision aerospace components for customers across the Indian market. Knowledge-sharing opportunities could open up.

Ferra Aerospace India supplies components to Boeing and Airbus, which takes care of the US and Australian market. In India, they associate with DRDO or Defence Research and Development Organisation, responsible for developing technology for military use in the country. Long-range missile components are being manufactured for DRDO. The project was initiated in 2020 and is now in various stages. The raw material came from Godrej and Boyce. Ferra Aerospace India has executed the project for DRDO. Touring through the shop floor gave an insight into automated machines that are working on fixtures and calibration processes to meet the Indian military and global demands. Eight machines are spread over 25,000 sqare feet (2,300m2).    

With its increased manufacturing capability, in-house engineering services and assembly setup, Ferra Aerospace India is now equipped to support more end-to-end services to its global customers. “We have added two new machines to our range and are in the process of expanding our engineering office. With partnerships and market demands, the company plans to increase its headcount from 55 to 300-400 in the next five years,” said Sridhar Chintha, managing director and general manager of Ferra Aerospace Pvt Ltd.

Dynamatic Technologies is a global contributor to the aerospace industry and has strong links with defence and aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India and around the world. Establishing further capabilities for Ferra in India may fortify the company’s manufacturing base in support of Australian programmes that are delivered from their home base in Queensland.

“This partnership between Dynamatic and Ferra Aerospace will enable us to develop new products that are specific to customer requirement. This collaboration will fast-track the production and development of aerospace components using the state-of-the art facilities and resources available at Ferra Aerospace and Dynamatic in Bangalore,” explained Udayant Malhoutra, CEO and managing director of Dynamatic Technologies Ltd. The company has 3,000 employees and plans to double the headcount over the next five years.

India is a subcontinent and Australia is the world’s smallest continent. When we look at India and Australia what one conjures is that both have an English-speaking population, and are connected through the Indian Ocean – specifically the Indo-Pacific region. “India has a young skilled workforce. Just as India has envisioned Make in India initiatives, Queensland has also encouraged its people towards domestic production of goods,” highlighted Cameron Dick, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment for the state of Queensland. Partnerships with global defence giants like Boeing and Dynamatic Technologies may strengthen Queensland’s advanced manufacturing capabilities. India is one of Queensland’s largest trading partners. In 2021-22, India was Queensland's fourth largest goods trading partner (exports plus imports) and the trade was valued at A$20.6bn.

The MoU is a very recent one. Scale and aero-engineering skills may spur many more such collaborations. It’s not just the aero engineering that could bring countries together. It’s also because two partners can work on the same product to reduce time, remove production-related bottlenecks in real time and lower costs. It could also generate local employment and bring in foreign revenue to the country.

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