HAL to increase helicopter production to meet export targets

Sakshi Jain

23 Nov 2022

HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) has added a new plant in Karnataka for helicopter production, with the expectation to meet export targets.

HAL has established a new facility in Tumakuru, Karnataka, for the manufacture of helicopters, which will soon begin operations. The company has a plant here where it can build up to 60 helicopters, and it also has one in Bengaluru where it can build up to 30 aircraft annually.

In the near future, HAL may produce up to 90 helicopters annually, depending on the type and demand of the aircraft

“Depending on the type and requirement of the helicopters, the company could manufacture up to 90 helicopters per annum in the near future.”

–CB Ananthakrishnan, CMD, HAL

Ananthakrishnan also talked about the prospects and openings for India's significant defence localisation drive.

The Tejas manufacturing program's second line has also been put into action. By outsourcing a large portion of the work packages to the four biggest private sector vendors, HAL is also attempting to develop the private ecosystem.

For the second quarter of the current fiscal year, the corporation provided some solid financial results. At over Rs 8,400 crore, the order book appears to be very strong. For the first six months of the current fiscal year FY23, the repair overhaul and manufacturing ratio are 60:40. The upcoming year is also anticipated to see a continuation of this trend.

HAL's repair overhaul and manufacturing ratio for the first half of the current fiscal year FY23 is 60:40. This tendency is expected to continue in the future year as well!

“FY25 onwards the manufacturing contracts will get executed and then the ratio will change. For FY25 the repair overhaul and manufacturing ratio are expected to be at 50:50.”

–CB Ananthakrishnan, CMD, HAL

During the last few months, HAL has signed various contracts with different countries as well as with India’s defence. 

In January 2022, HAL and the Government of Mauritius (GoM) inked a deal for the export of one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH Mk III) for the Mauritius Police Force, in keeping with the Government's objective to increase defence exports to friendly foreign countries.

HAL and the Government of Mauritius (GoM) entered into a deal for the sale of one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH Mk III) for the Mauritius Police Force

In April 2022, Six officers of the Nigerian Army Aviation will receive Phase-II flying training on the Chetak Helicopter thanks to a contract that HAL inked with the Nigerian Army. This represents the continuation of a contract for the successful completion of Phase-I flight instruction for six Nigerian Army aviation officers that was signed in April 2021.

In March 2022, at the Wings India-2022 event in Hyderabad, an Intent of Cooperation (IOC) was signed between HAL and PHL for the purchase or long-term lease of 20 helicopters, 10 of which will be civil variants of the ALH Dhruv and Light Utility Helicopters.

An Intent of Cooperation (IOC) was signed between HAL and PHL for the purchase or long-term lease of 20 helicopters

This would also improve the helicopter industry in India's civil aviation market and create synergy between HAL and PHL.

In April 2022, HAL was awarded a contract for the manufacturing of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) at a price of Rs 3,887 crores, of which 10 will be produced for the Indian Air Force and five will be produced for the Indian Army.

For the fiscal year that concluded on March 31, 2022, HAL had its highest-ever revenue of approximately Rs. 24,000 crores (provisional and unaudited), representing a 6% revenue increase over the prior fiscal year. A year before, 22,755 crores was the corresponding amount.

The business delivered some impressive financial results for the second quarter of the current fiscal year as well. More contracts, more production and more exports are on their way!

(With inputs from CNBC-TV18)

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Air India becomes the most punctual airline in October in 8 years

Radhika Bansal

23 Nov 2022

Air India turned out to be the most punctual airline in October while Go First was at the bottom in the list of airlines with regard to on-time performance during the month. The OTP data was for four domestic airports: Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. A flight is considered punctual if it leaves within 15 minutes of its scheduled time.

Since 2014, Air India hasn't topped the OTP chart for even a single month and would regularly report disappointing figures for departures. In October 2019, its OTP was 54.3%.

Air India posted 90.8% on-time performance (OTP) in October, beating all other Indian carriers for the first time in many years, followed by Vistara and AirAsia recording on-time performance of 89.1% during October, according to the monthly data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday, October 22.

ALSO READ - Air India beats IndiGo in the on-time performance in September

Air India becomes the most punctual airline in October in 8 years

After winning the bid on October 8, 2021, the Tata Group took over Air India on January 27. Six months later, Singapore Airlines veteran Campbell Wilson took charge as chief executive officer and managing director of Air India. One of his first pushes was to improve the airline's OTP.

Mr. Wilson communicated with the airline's integrated operations control center (IOCC) to report directly to him and give recommendations on improving on-time performance. Wilson inherited an airline that has largely been neglected for years. Sources say he's been busy keeping a close eye on daily losses and fixing systems bogging down the airline.

ALSO READ - Air India issues several guidelines to cabin crew to enhance on-time performance

One of the first things the Tatas wanted to improve with Air India was its customer experience. Timely departures, good seats, and in-flight entertainment screens that actually work are all being looked at. And while there's still some time before we can expect better aircraft interiors, it's good to see the remarkable progress made in the punctuality department, all within a year of the new owners taking charge.

When Air India was a government-run airline, it generally used to be at the bottom of DGCA's OTP list.

When Air India was a government-run airline, it generally used to be at the bottom of DGCA's OTP list. Not only did the airline beat others in OTP terms in October, but it also crossed the landmark of flying more than 1 million domestic passengers in a month after a long time. Air India flew 1.03 million domestic passengers in October, according to the DGCA data.

Similarly, IndiGo recorded an on-time performance of 87.5% followed by government-run Alliance Air with an on-time performance of 74.5%. While Spicjet had an on-time performance of 68.9%. Go First was at the bottom with on-time performance of 60.7% during the month.

Meanwhile, Go First's domestic passengers fell for the second consecutive month in October. Almost half of Go First's aircraft fleet is currently grounded due to engine supply and maintenance issues.

ALSO READ - Go First grounds over a fifth of its fleet due to delayed deliveries of engines by Pratt & Whitney

As per DGCA, analysis disclosed that the majority of delays (nearly 68%) were caused due to 'Reactionary' reasons.

As per DGCA, analysis disclosed that the majority of delays (nearly 68%) were caused due to 'Reactionary' reasons. Delay caused by late arrival of aircraft, crew, passengers or baggage from previous journeys come under Reactionary category.

So far as market share is concerned, IndiGo flew ahead of other airlines during the October month with 56.7% share in the domestic aviation sector. Vistara secured second slot with a market share of 9.2%. As per the latest data, of the aviation regulator, Indigo carried 64.71 lakh air passengers during the month while Vistara carried 10.49 lakh air passengers.

ALSO READ - Akasa Air had a 53% occupancy rate in its first month of operations

The latest entrant Akasa Air recorded a market share of 1.4% in October, up from 0.9% in September. The market share of AirAsia India rose to 7.6% from 5.9% in September. Air India and Vistara recorded a slight dip in market share to 9.1% and 9.2% in October from 9.2% and 9.6%, respectively, in September.

Indian carriers flew 11.4 million domestic passengers in October this year with about a 27% jump year-on-year.

In passenger load factor (PLF) or capacity utilisation, almost all major airlines recorded an increase except Akasa Air. The passenger load factor for IndiGo rose to 82.1% from 81.4% in September. SpiceJet also witnessed an increase in capacity utilisation to 88.1% from 85.8%.

For Tata group airlines, the PLF rose to 82.7% from 79.6% for Air India and to 84.2% from 77% for AirAsia India. Vistara witnessed a marginal increase to 85.5% from 85.4% in September. Akasa Air recorded a dip in capacity utilisation to 77.5% in October from 81.2% in September.

As per the DGCA, passengers carried by domestic airlines during January-October 2022 were 9.88 crore as against 6.20 crore during the corresponding period of previous year thereby registering annual growth of 59.16% and monthly growth of 26.95%.

The data said, nearly 1.14 crore passengers were carried by the domestic airlines during October in the country as against 89.85 lakh during the same period last year. Indian carriers flew 11.4 million domestic passengers in October this year with about a 27% jump year-on-year.

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Air India hits with Pilot & Cabin Crew shortage as it plans to expand internationally

Sakshi Jain

23 Nov 2022

Air India is struggling with a labour crisis and is in serious need of skilled and experienced pilots to support its expansion plans in the international sky.

Also read: Air India to broaden its network in the US

The 20 new weekly flights Air India has announced for Birmingham, London, and San Francisco will require about 200 senior pilots to operate.

For the additional long-distance routes, Air India is adding more wide-body aircraft to its fleet, including five Boeing 777s. It is also re-adding several of its wide-body aircraft that were grounded previously. However, more pilots would be needed for the introduction of these aircraft, and it can be difficult to locate qualified pilots for a plane like B777 in the domestic market. Only Air India and Vistara now run a wide-body fleet of Boeing 777 and 787 planes.

Also read: Air India starts discussing aircraft orders; to introduce a premium economy class in long-haul flights

For its wide-body Boeing 777 fleet, Air India needs to hire about 100 pilots

Sources claim that Air India, controlled by the Tata group, will acquire foreign pilots to operate its Boeing 777 aircraft in order to address a pilot shortage brought on by plans to grow both its fleet and its overseas operations.

In order to employ roughly 100 pilots for its wide-body Boeing 777 fleet, the carrier, according to the sources, has gotten in touch with a number of organisations that assist airlines in finding ex-pat flight crew. Pilots are more expensive to hire abroad than they are in India.

Additionally, more ultra-long-haul flights would necessitate more cabin crew. According to sources, to operate on the extra flights to the US and UK, the airline would need between 900 and 1,000 more crew members.

The airline would require between 900 and 1,000 more crew members to operate on the additional flights to the US and UK, according to sources

It has been reported that the situation has gotten worse as more than 450 crew members have chosen to retire voluntarily, with their release date set for November 30. Due to the airline's inability to locate replacements at this time, it has given the retiring crew the option to stay on for an additional two months.

According to sources, the airline trained roughly 200 crew members since the Tata Group took ownership, but they haven't yet deployed it.  This is due to the fact that these crew members lack the proper paperwork, such as a US visa, which is a need for deployment on flights to the US and beyond.

Since the Tata Group acquired ownership of Air India, about 200 crew members have been trained; however, they have not yet been deployed

“Air India was already facing a shortage of pilots and the recent announcement of the induction of 5 Boeing 777 planes in the next four months and new flights to the US have added to this shortage.”


A Mumbai-based employment firm recently posted a job listing for international pilots.

Vacancies for Boeing 777 Line Captains are available at Air India, and they will be hired on a one-year contract.

The contract states that the promised salary is USD 11,500 per month (exclusive of taxes), benefits are included, and a payment of USD 133.30 is made for each hour of flying that exceeds 70 hours.

Air India has announced the launch of nonstop flights from Mumbai to San Francisco, New York, and Newark. Flights from Bengaluru to San Francisco will also start within the next few weeks. 

Air India has announced the launch of nonstop flights from Mumbai to San Francisco, New York, and Newark

Also read: Air India to start direct flights between Mumbai-San Francisco

According to Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, the airline is implementing its long-term resuscitation strategy, and over the next five years, it plans to expand both its wide-body and narrow-body fleet sizes as well as its global network.

(With inputs from CNBC-TV18)

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Air India to broaden its network in the US

Sakshi Jain

22 Nov 2022

Air India has announced the launch of two new US routes from Mumbai (BOM), as the number of continuous flights between India and North America keeps expanding.

Air India is all set to expand its India-US networks

On December 15, Air India will start offering three weekly flights to San Francisco (SFO). Along with its 10-weekly Delhi (DEL) operation and its 3-weekly service from Bengaluru (BLR), which resumes on December 2, the route will become the airline's third to the US city. Additionally, reservations are now being taken for daily flights starting on February 14, 2023, from Mumbai to New York John F. Kennedy (JFK). This will be made available along with its current 3-weekly flights to Newark Liberty (EWR).

Also read: Air India to start direct flights between Mumbai-San Francisco

The Tata Group-owned airline decided to lease 30 new aircraft in September to expand its domestic and international operations over the following 15 months.

In addition to 21 Airbus A320neos and four A321neos, the contract called for five Boeing 777-200LRs to be delivered between December 2022 and March 2023. 777-200LR aircraft will be used on both the new San Francisco and New York JFK routes.

“In addition to restoring long-grounded aircraft, we have finalised leases for 30 additional aircraft being delivered over the next 12 months – starting next week – with more in the final stages of negotiation.”

–Campbell Wilson, CEO, Air India

The airline now operates 113 aircraft, both narrow-body and wide-body Airbus and Boeing models.

Currently, the airline has 113 aircraft in its fleet, including wide- and narrow-body Airbus and Boeing models

Also read: Air India leases 6 Airbus A320 NEOs from CDB Aviation

In the market for nonstop flights between Mumbai and San Francisco, Air India will be the lone provider. According to Sabre Market Intelligence statistics, 138,090 two-way passengers, all of whom travelled indirectly, made up the total O&D traffic between the destinations in 2019. This comes out to around 189 travellers daily going both ways.

Air India's departing Newark flight is now the sole nonstop route running between Mumbai and New York. With the addition of JFK, there will be 10 weekly round trips connecting the two locations, with 2,052 more seats readily available for travel in each direction.

Air India has experience operating the route between Mumbai and New York JFK, having done so between December 2018 and March 2019. 

In order to develop Air India into a top-tier airline, Wilson is in charge of a five-year transformation programme, called Vihaan.ai. This includes immediate actions like repairing grounded aircraft, enhancing cabin design, and making investments in future aircraft and technological advancements.

Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, is in charge of a five-year transformation programme, called Vihaan.ai

Also read: Air India unveils Vihaan – a comprehensive 5-year transformation plan

Also read: What is the plan of Air India for the next 5 years?

On domestic flights, the airline has updated its in-flight menu, and it will do the same for flights internationally. As Air India starts introducing the Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft, premium economy service would be introduced in the following month.

“We have expanded both domestically and internationally, including more flights to Vancouver, Sydney and Melbourne. We now operate non-stop to London from 7 Indian cities. From Mumbai, we’ll be adding new non-stop service to San Francisco, New York and Newark starting in a few weeks.”

––Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India said at a JRD Tata Memorial Trust event

Wilson also recalled the heydey of Air India, when it was renowned for its first-rate service and the contributions it made to the development of other airlines throughout the globe.

(With inputs from Routes Online)

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Airlines urge one-pilot flights to cut costs, despite safety concerns

Sakshi Jain

22 Nov 2022

Airlines around the world are pushing the UN body which controls International Aviation Safety, to switch to a one-pilot model, in an effort to cut costs.

Airlines and regulators are pushing to have just one pilot in the cockpit of commercial airlines instead of two, despite safety concerns

This is where aviation has been heading for many years. In the 1950s, there was normally a Captain, a First Officer or Co-Pilot, a Flight Engineer, a Navigator, and a Radio Operator in each commercial aircraft cockpit. The latter three jobs eventually become obsolete due to technological advancements.

“We are potentially removing the last piece of human redundancy from the flight deck.”

–Janet Northcote, EASA’s Head of Communications, wrote in an email

The United Nations body that establishes aviation standards has been contacted by more than 40 nations, including Germany, the UK, and New Zealand, asking for assistance in making single-pilot flights a reality.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency predicts that this might occur as early as 2027, although it raises safety concerns and puts more strain on pilots.

Pilots don't like the plan very much and also, passengers find it difficult to buy in.

An Airbus SE A330 Captain for Qantas Airways is worried that before anyone else can arrive at the cockpit to offer assistance, a lone pilot will become overwhelmed by a catastrophe

Tony Lucas, an Airbus SE A330 Captain for Qantas Airways, is worried that a solo pilot would become overwhelmed by a crisis before anybody else can get to the cockpit to offer assistance. As a check and training captain as well, Lucas is concerned about the lost potential for mentoring young pilots if flight crew members work more and more independently.

“The people going down this route aren’t the people who fly jets every day. When things go awry, they go awry fairly quickly.”

–Tony Lucas, the President of the Australian & International Pilots Association and an Airbus SE A330 Captain for Qantas Airways Ltd.

The projected alterations provide numerous difficulties.

What would occur if a solo pilot passed out or began flying erratically is not yet known. A second pilot's knowledge, safety, and immediate support would have to be replaced in some way by automation, technology, and remote aid from the ground.

If solo piloting is to become a reality, automation, technology, and remote assistance from the ground would have to in some way replace the expertise, safety, and immediate assistance of a second pilot

“The psychological barriers are probably harder than the technological barriers. The technology is there for single pilots, it’s really about where the regulators and the general public feel comfortable.”

–Alexander Feldman, Boeing Co. Southeast Asia President said at a Bloomberg business summit in Bangkok last week

The International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, which advocates on behalf of the world's aircraft manufacturers, is pleading with the ICAO to develop a road map for operations involving just one pilot during non-critical times.

In an email, Airbus stated that it is considering how its aircraft might be operated with a reduced crew. For the time being, the aircraft manufacturer is working with airlines and authorities to determine if two pilots may safely take the place of three people on long-haul flights.

The aircraft manufacturer is currently coordinating with airlines and regulatory agencies to evaluate if two pilots may safely replace three on long-haul flights

In the long run, flights might be entirely automated with only limited pilot input in the cockpit.

According to EASA, the system might recognise if the pilot were incapable for any reason and then land the plane on its own at a chosen airport. According to them, such flights won't be feasible until long after 2030.

EASA stated that it is aware of the worries people have when solo flying and that addressing them is a process.

(With inputs from Yahoo News)

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India ceases Air Suvidha forms for international travellers

Sakshi Jain

22 Nov 2022

The mandatory completion of Air Suvidha forms for international travellers was discontinued on Monday, November 21, by the MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation).

All foreign travellers entering India are required to fill out the Air Suvidha, which is essentially a self-declaration in which they must state their present health status, recent travel history, and other information. The Air Suvidha portal, which was established in August 2020 and strengthened to incorporate travel directives released on November 30, 2021, was introduced.

Air Suvidha is an online system for International passengers to submit a mandatory Self Declaration form to declare their current health status

To ensure the seamless entry of foreign visitors to India, the Ministries of Civil Aviation and Health & Family Welfare implemented contactless self-declaration at the Air Suvidha Portal last year.

The Air Suvidha portal's exemption forms have been eliminated, and filling out the information has been made mandatory for all international travellers arriving in India in order to achieve the necessary protection against the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.

The MoCA and MoHFW adopted contactless self-declaration at the Air Suvidha Portal last year to guarantee the smooth entry of foreign travellers to India

According to the ministry, the revisions were made in light of the continuous downward trajectory of Covid-19 and the significant improvements in Covid-19 vaccine coverage both internationally and in India. Beginning on November 22, the revised order will be in effect.

“In the light of sustained declining COVID-19 trajectory and significant advances being made in COVID-19 vaccination coverage both globally as well as in India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued revised ‘Guidelines for International Arrivals.”

–Civil Aviation Ministry announced

The following are the most recent ministry guidelines for overseas travel:

All travellers should ideally be completely vaccinated in accordance with their country's primary vaccination schedule that has been approved against Covid-19.

Any person exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms while travelling must be quarantined according to established protocol.

The aforementioned person should be wearing a mask, separated from other passengers during the flight or transit, and then transferred to an isolated centre for further treatment.

The de-boarding should be done following social distancing.

The health officials on duty at the point of entry should conduct thermal screening on each passenger.

Passengers who exhibit symptoms during screening must be brought to a recognised medical facility right away and segregated in accordance with health procedures.

After arriving, all travellers should check their own health, go to the closest medical facility, and phone either the national helpline number (1075) or the state helpline number in case of an emergency.


The Ministry of Civil Aviation announced last week that the use of masks would no longer be required on flights and would instead just be advised in keeping with the Government of India's policy of a graduated approach to the COVID-19 management response.

Also read: Masks will no longer be needed for air travel: MoCA

Following the pandemic, scheduled domestic flight operations were suspended beginning on March 25, 2020, for a period of two months. The same day saw the suspension of scheduled international flight services, which were eventually reinstated on March 27 of this year.

According to official data released on Monday, November 21, India recorded 406 additional coronavirus infections, bringing the country's total COVID-19 cases to 4,46,69,421, while the number of active cases fell to 6,402.

According to the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) website, the national COVID-19 recovery rate increased to 98.80%, and the active cases make up only 0.01 per cent of all infections.