Boeing boost for Make in India

James McNerney, chairman, The Boeing Company speaks at “India’s Time to Fly” Aerospace Innovation Summit. (PTI photo)
James McNerney, chairman, The Boeing Company speaks at “India’s Time to Fly” Aerospace Innovation Summit. (PTI photo)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign got a major boost on Friday with American aviation major Boeing joining the bandwagon. Boeing chairman James McNerney said here that the company could assemble fighter planes and either the Apache or Chinook defence helicopter in India. “Even (building a commercial aircraft wing or fuselage in India) is closer than you think,” McNerney said, making Boeing the biggest global company to commit to the ‘Make in India’ programme.

Last month, Boeing had got a $3-billion contract for supplying 22 Apaches and 15 Chinooks to India. While finalizing the chopper order, the defence ministry had said that contract will have a 30% offset clause and bring in business worth $1 billion for the Indian defence industry. “Make in India is a very important mission for the country. Over the last two to three decades, the capability of the Indian people has been obvious and clear. Modi’s initiative takes up those capabilities two to three levels,” McNerney, who met Modi on Thursday, said.

“Make in India is not just someone handing you a blueprint and you make it. It can’t be that way. I think the vision of the Prime Minister is more than that. India will get technology that can be used elsewhere in manufacturing … Make in India is for India and globally. Given the global nature of our products, we can play at the centre of that,” he said.

Boeing sees huge potential in India for civil aviation growth and it projects the country will need 1,800 aircraft over the next two decades. “Boeing sees this market as a civil aviation opportunity as conversion of only 1% of people travelling in trains to aviation can double the market size here. We are also looking at producing more fuel-efficient, green and longer-flying capable planes to bring down the cost of flying to attract more customers,” McNerney said.

Appreciating India’s low cost Mars mission, he said Boeing was keen to partner India in space technology. Given the shrinking size of satellites, he hinted at using India’s launch capabilities for Boeing’s satellites. “If the politics here allows this initiative, to continue with the same momentum that it has today, for the next five years, the goal of moving the manufacturing contribution to the economy from 14% to 25% is achievable. The capability is here.”

“The civil nuclear deal (between India and US) unlocked everything … India is now better poised to make investments for us after the new government has come in,” he said. However, Boeing said India needed to resolve issues like the uncertain tax regime and the long time it takes to resolve a dispute here. He gave credit to Modi for trying to address these issues. “Under the new leadership, the country is moving towards the manufacturing dream. The efforts of changing tax regime and working towards speedy dispute resolution are some of the things that this government is working on and it is an encouraging feeling.”

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