The potential of the Indian market for the Israeli aerospace and defense industries is huge. There are short term acquisition programmes and long term ones, and Israeli officials are trying to be part of each such competition. Israel has supplied the Indian defense forces with many systems and therefore has a very good status in this huge market.
But now the Indian domestic aviation market looms as the one with similar potential and Israel is there to try and enjoy the future developments.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is following very closely the needs of the Indian domestic aviation market in new aircraft.
According to Dr Moshe Zilberman, director of marketing at IAI's engineering division, the Indian domestic airliners market is far from maturity, thus, the potential growth of the market is promising a significant increase in the number of domestic airliners.
Dr Zilberman claims that the new entries of regional aircraft in Russia, Japan and China, where the domestic markets are growing in equal or lower rates than in India, should encourage and support India's decision to develop a new regional aircraft of its own.
Figures presented by IAI show that the annual growth rate of the domestic passenger air traffic in India is 25% since the open skies policy was adopted in 2004-2005.
The IAI data shows that the growing domestic market in India is presently divided among seven operators.
The fleet of 300 aircraft is mainly composed of single-aisle jet airliners manufactured by Boeing and Airbus. Around 50 ATRs are operated by Jet Airways, Jet lite (formerly Sahara) and Kingfisher .
The fact that most of the domestic fleet is based on single-aisle jets indicates that domestic operators, considered as regional operators, prefer much higher seating capacity than the world average.
The data also shows that the order book of manufacturers by the Indian operators, is maintaining a similar ratio between single-aisle jet airliners and turboprop aircraft.
Dr Zilberman says that the domestic Indian aviation market is ahead of the world tendency in seat capacity for the regional service by 30-50 seats. Namely, this market is much more comfortable with jet airliners with 90 passengers and beyond.
The IAI expert says that it is just a matter of short term decision that India, as a world leader from the user point of view, will become a significant player in the manufacturing side for the internal market at first, and for the rest of the market in the more distant future.
An IAI corporate source says: "We are very interested in the Indian plans to design and manufacture domestic and regional aircraft. We have a lot to contribute and want to be part of any such programme."