Home' Asian Aviation : AAV_June2012 Contents AsianAviation | JUNE 2012 33
While India's GA sector is growing fast, it is starting
from a small base and there is a clear need for much
development on the infrastructure side. Opportunities
abound for developing GA infrastructure and creating
a regulatory framework designed to enhance growth.
Charter flights, tourism and offshore operations are
among the most active segments of the Indian GA
market. The need for police helicopters is also slowly
being recognized, although airborne emergency
medical services still remain a distant dream because
of insurance restrictions. Small wonder, then, that E
K Bharat Bhushan, head of the country's Directorate-
General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), calls GA, "the new
kid on the block."
In India, business aviation has been evolving to meet
the increasing demands of high net-worth individuals.
"GA in India is a niche market, especially since
it is relatively hassle-free and has instant-availability
status," Bhushan says. "However, GA is experiencing
a lot of constraints, which, I must confess, are also
rather formidable. There are no exclusive guidelines
for them. The factors that inhibit the growth of GA
are mainly [the] lack of infrastructure and manpower
as well as several procedural issues relating to
"There is no concept of Fixed Base Operations
(FBO), [civil] helicopters or GA terminals in the
country," he adds. "The number of agencies for ground
handling is extremely restricted. There is no separate
parking and helicopters operate out of airports. There
is a much-needed focus, which [the] government of
India and DGCA is now putting on the GA sector."
At a recent conference of the Indo-American
Chamber of Commerce in New Delhi, the DGCA
chief said: "At present, there is also an acute shortage
of trained and skilled manpower in the aviation
sector. As a consequence... there is an unhealthy
competition for employees, which is driving wages
to unacceptable levels."
The DGCA recently commissioned a study with
ICAO specialists to address the issues facing the GA
sector. The team is preparing a blueprint for business
and general aviation in India, aimed at laying down
the foundation for a more transparent and consistent
approach to both regulating and stimulating the
industry. The new report will outline a future strategy,
taking into account present infrastructure and regulatory
constraints. Once published, the blueprint will be a guide
for changes in government policy toward the industry.
On the rotary wing side, the future seems
promising. The country's fast-growing economy,
increasing reliance on air transportation and varied
terrain are all pushing the Indian helicopter market to
develop very fast, while corporate and VIP transport
demand is also expected to grow rapidly. Another
promising area is the burgeoning oil and gas industry,
which will require longer-range helicopters to support
exploration and development of new sources. State-
owned oil and gas supplier ONGC and the Ministry
of Petroleum are presently addressing this need,
Bhushan said at the conference.
There are currently no separate air-traffic management
(ATM) procedures for GA aircraft, except routings
for helicopters designed for Delhi, Mumbai and
Bangalore airports. The Airports Authority of India
(AAI) is now pursuing initiatives to develop the
infrastructure to serve a growing GA fleet including:
an Air Traffic Flow management plan, in partnership
with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),
to be implemented by December 2012 at six major
airports; and the introduction of Performance Based
Navigation (PBN) for all major airports to speed up
"General Aviation Operators will need to upgrade
their aircraft equipment, train pilots, get approval to
fly RNAV [Area Navigation] procedures [and] routes
to take full advantage of these initiatives," says AAI.
In 2007, India's Ministry of Civil Aviation and the
US Department of Transportation established the US
and India Aviation Cooperation Programme (ACP).
The programme is a private-public partnership
between the FAA, the US Trade and Development
agency, private US Industries and the Government
of India. It has helped develop bilateral cooperation
in areas such as aviation safety, standards, ATM, GA
and training programmes.
"These are very robust discussions. We are trying
to look ahead to study ways to simplify India's flight-
clearance processes for GA aircraft. We are also
reviewing GA [aircraft] import approval processes and
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) currency restrictions..,"
says Judy Reinke, Minister Counsellor for Commercial
Affairs, at the US embassy in New Delhi.
Judging by the strong business aviation presence
at the India Aviation 2012 show, held at Hyderabad
in southern India in March, the time may well have
come for the sector to come into its own. Among the
developments at the show was the inauguration by
AgustaWestland and Tata Group of the final assembly
line for the AW119 helicopter at Hyderabad's Rajiv
Gandhi International Airport, marking the start of
construction of a new helicopter production facility
in India, while rival helicopter maker Eurocopter
announced its first sales of the year in India.
Making a debut in India with the Czech-built
Let 410UVP-E20 twin turboprop, Indian sales
representative InterGlobe announced orders for four
of the 19-seat aircraft. France's Dassault said it has
12 outstanding orders for its Falcon business jet
family, adding to the 20 now registered in India, while
Embraer received type certification from the DGCA
for its Legacy 650 jet, making India one of the few
countries in the world to have approved every one of
the manufacturer's models, including the first Lineage
1000 to enter service in India last year. India has 14 of
the 20 Embraer jets operating in the Asia-Pacific region.
Italy's Piaggio Aero, meanwhile, displayed an
Avanti II twin turboprop belonging to Indian client
MSPL at the show, with the manufacturer's Sales
Director Fabio Sciacca saying the "light, medium-
size [turboprop aircraft] is ideal for the Indian market.
Why buy a jet costing US$40 million for flying the
"The factors that inhibit the growth of GA are mainly [the] lack of
infrastructure and manpower as well as several procedural issues relating to
government control." -- DGCA head E K Bharat Bhushan
India is home to 14 of the 20 Embraer business jets operating in the Asia-
Pacific region, including this Phenom 100, operated by Joyalukkas Group.
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