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​AERO INDIA: Boeing looks beyond Indian offset work

Boeing wants to help improve India’s aerospace industrial capabilities, as it further integrates the country into its supply chain.

Pratyush Kumar, president of Boeing India, says the country has gone from being a “sales outpost” for the US airframer to a “full operating business.” He notes that Boeing has 35 direct and 120 indirect suppliers in the country.

“Something made in India is in all of our platforms flying today,” he says.

A good portion of Boeing’s involvement with Indian industry stems from its run of sales success in the country. In recent years, New Delhi has acquired major Boeing platforms such as the C-17 strategic transport, P-8 anti-submarine warfare jet, the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter, and CH-47 tactical transport helicopter.

Under Indian law, 30% of such acquisitions need to be plowed back in the form of offsets designed to build India’s defence and aerospace sectors. One high profile collaboration is Boeing’s joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems, which builds the fuselage for the AH-64.

Kumar was speaking with media prior to the start of the Aero India tradeshow at Yelahanka air base on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Boeing also announced the establishment of Boeing Defence India, a local operating unit focused on services, support, sales and marketing, sourcing, manufacturing, and engineering. The company feels this will “drive decision making closer to the customer,” and allow it to deepen its relationship with the country’s defence ministry.

Kumar notes that while India’s aerospace sector has made impressive gains, it still has room to improve.

“India has a very competitive supply chain for automotive manufacturing, but automotive work…accepts a level of defects,” he says. “The standard for aerospace manufacturing is zero defects. While this sounds like a small step, it's really a giant leap for the industry. That leap requires huge capability building. We've invested not just in the supply chain, but also preparing small and medium enterprises in India to move to a higher skill level.”

One journalist asked Kumar about how US president Donald Trump’s dim view of overseas manufacturing might relate to Boeing’s offsets.

“I can only say we have offset obligations in India that we are committed to exceeding,” he replied.

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