India’s civil aviation industry is moving from nascency towards the growth phase and progressing “very rapidly” in the area of aircraft manufacturing, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told Lok Sabha on Thursday.
Replying to a question from Trinamool Congress (TMC) member Saugata Roy, the minister also said that there is a plan to increase the number of airports from 138 to 220 in the next four to five years as building infrastructure in the aviation sector is crucial for the government.
“Civil aviation does not just consist of airline operations and airport operations, but also a whole ecosystem must develop. In order for that ecosystem to develop, the industry must go from nascency towards growth phase, which is where we are going,” Scindia said during the Question Hour.
India has advanced towards manufacturing aircraft, he said, adding that “we are progressing very rapidly in the area of manufacturing of aircraft”. In his question, the TMC member had sought to know from the government if it has taken steps to increase aircraft manufacturing in India, noting that the country was still far behind in passenger aircraft manufacturing.
“We have Boeing and Tata in a joint venture called Tata Boeing Space Limited, which is today manufacturing the Apache fuselage in India for not only operation within in India but internationally as well. They are being exported,” the minister said.
While Airbus has “tied up” with the Tata Advance System to replace the AVRO aircraft of the Indian Air Force with Airbus C295, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has taken “very important steps” in the area of aircraft manufacturing, which includes manufacturing the Hindustan-228, the Indian version of the Dornier-228, he said.
“Six civilian aircraft are under production with our own funding… We are also producing 19-seater light transport aircraft within India with CSR to give a new impetus to regional transport. The ALH-Dhruv (advanced light helicopter) is also being produced by HAL,” Scindia added.
Replying to a supplementary question asked by the TMC member, the minister said the ‘Udaan’ has been “a very successful” scheme in terms of viability gap funding to connect previously unconnected or under-connected locations.
“Under this scheme, we have not only provided connectivity between smaller cities and large metros but also built 63 airports, heliports and water aerodromes. We have almost doubled the number of airports in (last) seven years, growing from 74 airports, prior to 2014, to 138 airports today,” he said.
“We plan to grow to 220 (airports) in next four to five years,” he added The minister said that building infrastructure in the aviation sector is “an imperative”. “We will surely deliver on that,” he added.