Vivek Raghuvanshi/NEW DELHI

INDIA HAS a multi-billion dollar requirement for new civil aircraft, but its manufacturing industry risks missing out on offset- contract opportunities, according to a Government-sponsored study.

The report, from the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) and Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council, says that India will buy airliners worth $5.8 billion by 2000, of which private airlines will account for 25% by value. The total could climb to $15 billion by 2010.

Study director Roddaam Narsimha, a former director of NAL, says: "India's entire civil-aviation industry provides an extraordinary growth opportunity. India should start acting immediately to be a major player around 2010 and cash in on the enormous opportunities waiting. Already, we are delayed and countries like China and Singapore are forging ahead."

The study says that the immense potential benefits from offset contracts with aircraft suppliers are not being recognised. It recommends closer links between Hindustan Aeronautics and major domestic carrier Indian Airlines as a key strategy.

It warns that, while deregulation has led to rapid growth in air transport, Indian industry is failing to capitalise on the resulting opportunities in aviation services, such as training and maintenance.

Narsimha says that the Asia Pacific region will account for 40% of world travel by 2010 and will generate large markets for training, aircraft maintenance and development of small- to medium-sized aircraft.

The extra manpower requirement in India is projected to be 800 pilots, 900 engineers and 3,000 technicians by 2000. The effective expenditure on training will be about $50 million.

Air India has won Government approval for the purchase of the first two of five Boeing 747-400s it wants. It is also seeking permission to buy three more Airbus A310s and a new long-haul type - to be chosen from the Boeing 777, Airbus A340 and McDonnell Douglas MD-11.

Source: Flight International