India’s need for aerospace engineers to grow: Experts

February 5th, 2012 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Feb 5 (IANS) With calls for the government to liberalise foreign direct investment (FDI) norms to allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 percent in domestic air carriers, India will see a tremendous need for aerospace engineers in the next decade, experts said.

Speaking on the sidelines of Zephyr-2012, the annual aviation festival of Indian Institute of Technology, Air Marshal (retd) J.S. Gujral said that the demand will also grow in civil aviation.

“With the growing need for setting up better MRO (maintenance, repairs and overhaul) facilities in India, the demand of such engineers will only increase,” Gujral told IANS.

According to experts, India will need in excess of 50,000 trained and licensed engineers by 2020 to service the demand of a slew of both Indian and foreign aircraft maintenance facilities.

“Several foreign aircraft maintenance facilities are eyeing opening new units in the country, to service the demand of a growing aviation industry,” said Bharat Malkani, chairman and managing director of Max Aerospace and Aviation Ltd.

“We have around 25,000 licensed engineers in India. Every year only 350-400 aeronautical engineers pass out from various IITs and other recognised training institutions,” he added.

Stating that young aspiring engineers should look to taking up aerospace engineering as a career, Malkani noted that India will be able to deliver only 4,000 such engineers in the next eight years.

“Salaries over the next three-five years will skyrocket by more than 150-200 percent due to this scarcity, which is good for the students eyeing a career in aeronautical engineering,” he said.

The demand will also find its basis as there is an increasing need for new MRO facilities in India.

According to aviation ministry officials, by 2025, India’s airlines will operate about 1,800 aircraft, handling an estimated 400 million passengers a year.

An estimate by Ernst & Young says that the Indian MRO industry in the aviation sector will receive investments up to $30 billion by 2020.

“The reason why India’s MRO industry will develop is because it is cheaper and faster to repair in India than send the planes abroad for maintenance,” Gujral said.

“Again, due to this we will need more aircraft maintenance engineers and considering that there is a huge demand of such engineers, their salaries will also take a huge jump,” he added.

Gujral, however, said that there are major challenges to be overcome in positioning India as a cost-efficient MRO hub.

“These include high taxes, regulatory issues, a shortage of space at major airports and high attrition rate of skilled labour due to the growth of MRO activities in Middle East and Far East,” he said.

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