Hisar Airport is set to be functional by November 1

Radhika Bansal

31 Mar 2023

Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala on Thursday, March 30 said the Maharaja Agrasen Hisar Airport will be made operational by November 1. Under the regional connectivity scheme, air service will be started from Hisar on nine routes to different states.

After the completion of various works, passengers will be able to travel on these routes, he said in Hisar. Chautala said personnel from Air India will come for an inspection of the upcoming Hisar airport in connection with starting flying training operations from there. If the flying training operations start after an inspection in Hisar, then Air India alone will give training to about 200 pilots. He said three other companies are also in the race to start flying training operations in Hisar, for which an open tender will be floated soon.

Nine routes for the interstate air service will launch from Hisar as part of the Regional Connectivity Program. Passengers will be permitted to fly on 48-seater aircraft once several tasks are finished. 

Hisar Airport is set to be functional by November 1

Giving information about various works going on at the airport, the deputy chief minister said the work on the boundary wall of the airport would be completed in May. "In terms of security, watch towers have been set up according to international standards. The work on the taxiway at the airport is almost complete. Advanced lighting systems have arrived and will be installed from next month," he said.

He said the capacity of the airport terminal would be increased to 55 from 30 people. Besides, the process of tender for the building of the new terminal will start soon. Arrangements are also being made given hijacks and other emergencies.

Hisar Airport, officially known as Maharaja Agrasen International Airport exists as a domestic airport presently under upgrade by 30 March 2024, is a DGCA-licensed public airport. It is located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northeast of the city center on NH-9.

The airport is under expansion and upgrade to an international airport, MRO, aerospace university, aerospace and defence manufacturing industrial zone, logistics and food parks, etc. spread across 10,000 acres (4,000 ha). In 2021, the total cost of the planned upgrade in 3 phases, including the actual spend and future approved allocations, is nearly INR 5,200 crore or USD 700 million.

Hisar airport is 165 kilometres west of the national capital's IGI Delhi Airport and 280 kilometres southwest of the state capital's Chandigarh International Airport.

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SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh takes over as Assocham President

Jinen Gada

30 Mar 2023

SpiceJetChairman & Managing Director Ajay Singh has assumed charge as the President Assocham, replacing Renew Power MD Sumant Sinha after the completion of his tenure.

Sanjay Nayar, founder and Chairman of Sorin Investment Fund is the new Senior Vice-President of Assocham, the industry body said in a release on Wednesday.

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh takes over as Assocham President.

"I am taking over at times which are both exciting and challenging. As an economy, India stands out as a robust economy in the midst of global headwinds. Even when major economies of the world are facing the threat of recession, the Indian economy is growing between 6.5-7 per cent."

Mr. Singh said.

He emphasised that the chamber would stay engaged with the government, Centre and states, leading academicians, economists besides corporate leaders to find solutions to the issues, which may crop up in a fast-changing global economic and political landscape.

Mr. Singh studied at the Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi, where he received a degree in engineering, and got his Master's degree in Business Administration from Cornell University in the U.S. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in Law (LLB) from the Law Faculty, University of Delhi.

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Boeing’s Starliner launch delayed again

Jinen Gada

30 Mar 2023

Boeing's first astronaut flight to space has been delayed until July, marking yet another setback for the aerospace giant's efforts to catch up with Elon Musk's SpaceX in the race for space tourism.

Originally scheduled for 2019, the Boeing Starliner spacecraft has faced numerous technical issues and delays, including a failed test flight in 2019 that was marred by software glitches and communication problems. The spacecraft was scheduled for its second test flight in March 2021, but that too was postponed due to ongoing technical issues.

The latest delay comes as a result of a problem with the spacecraft's propulsion system, which caused the launch to be delayed until at least July. Boeing says that it needs additional time to complete the necessary testing and analysis before it can proceed with the launch.

Boeing’s Starliner launch delayed again.

Despite the delays, Boeing remains committed to its goal of sending tourists into space aboard the Starliner spacecraft. The company has already signed up several customers for future flights, including NASA astronauts, and hopes to launch its first commercial mission as soon as possible.

However, the delays have raised questions about Boeing's ability to compete with SpaceX, which has already successfully launched several manned missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and has plans for further space tourism flights.

Boeing's delays have also come at a time when the company is facing numerous other challenges, including ongoing investigations into the two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aerospace industry as a whole.

Boeing's delays have also come at a time when the company is facing numerous other challenges, including ongoing investigations into the two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft.

Despite these challenges, Boeing remains optimistic about the future of space tourism and its ability to compete with SpaceX. In a recent statement, the company said that it remains "committed to the safety and quality of our spacecraft, our customers, and the broader community" and that it is "working diligently to ensure the Starliner spacecraft is ready for its next flight."

Overall, while the delay of Boeing's first astronaut flight to space is certainly disappointing for the company and its customers, it is also a reminder of the many technical and logistical challenges that come with space travel. As the race for space tourism heats up, it will be interesting to see how Boeing and SpaceX continue to compete and innovate in this rapidly evolving field.

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Air India receives INR 14,000 crore loan from SBI & Bank of Baroda

Radhika Bansal

30 Mar 2023

Air India has raised INR 14,000 crore from the State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of Baroda (BoB) through a mix of refinancing of old loans and fresh loans, a report by Mint stated quoting people aware of the development.

INR 1,500 crore has been obtained through the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS), and INR 12,500 crore through the refinancing of existing loans. The ECLGS was first introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to help small businesses but was later expanded to other sectors.

ALSO READ - Air India plans to borrow INR 18,000 crore from SBI and Bank of Baroda to refinance debt

The Mint report stated that the funds would be used by the airline to expand in domestic as well as international markets with leased aircraft and new planes. As a part of the plan, the airline has announced plans to induct more aircraft, including a recent order of 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.

ALSO READ - From A350s to B777Xs, Air India finalizes the Historic 470 Aircraft deal with Airbus & Boeing

Air India acquires INR 14,000 crore loan from SBI & Bank of Baroda

In FY22, the airline's total debt stood at INR 15,317 crore, significantly lower than INR 45,037 crore in FY21. The Tata Group took over Air India in January last year. For this, Tata paid INR 2,700 crore in cash, taking over INR 15,300 crore in debt.

ALSO READ - Air India posts profit for the first time in several years

"Bankers are more than willing to lend to the Tata Group. Given that there are very few large corporates looking for bank loans, lenders are eager to lap up such proposals," a person aware of the matter told Mint. 

The report further added that the loans are benchmarked to SBI's six-month marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) and are priced 50 basis points (bps) above it. Currently, SBI's MCLR stands at 8.4%.

The report said a part of the borrowing was also likely to be used to fund the payout for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRA), which is likely to cost over INR 200 crore. The new round has been offered to all permanent general cadre officers who are at least 40 years and have completed at least five years of continuous service at Air India.

The loans from SBI and BoB are benchmarked to State Bank of India's six-month marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) and are priced 50 basis points (bps) above it, the report said.

ALSO RAED - Air India to get fleet insurance from top insurance companies

(With Inputs from Mint)

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Tata Advanced Systems bags Airbus A320neo aircraft cargo doors order

Radhika Bansal

30 Mar 2023

Tata Advanced Systems on March 29 won a contract to manufacture aircraft cargo and bulk cargo doors from aviation major Airbus. As part of the contract, Tata Advanced Systems will produce these doors at a new facility in Hyderabad using cutting-edge robotics and automation technology for aircraft of the Airbus A320neo family.

The contract comes on the heels of Tata Sons-oned Air India's 470-aircraft megadeal with Airbus and Boeing, of which, 210 planes will be from the A320neo suite. Airbus' clients in India for the A320 family of aircraft also include IndiGo and Go First.

Airbus currently procures components and services worth USD 735 million every year from more than 100 Indian suppliers, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs in India. By 2025, this number should rise to about 15,000.

Tata Advanced Systems bags Airbus A320neo aircraft cargo doors orders

"Today, every Airbus commercial aircraft and every Airbus helicopter has critical technologies and systems designed, manufactured and maintained in India," the company said in a press release.

Each ship set will include two cargo doors and one bulk cargo door. The contract was signed by Olivier Cauquil, SVP Aerostructure Procurement, Airbus and Masood Hussainy, VP and HO Aerostructure and Aero-Engines, Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, at Hyderabad on Wednesday, March 29.

“We have an ongoing relationship with Airbus based on trust and operational excellence, and this new contract win will further bolster our partnership in aerospace manufacturing in India.”

Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tata Advanced Systems

In September last year, India sealed a nearly INR 21,000-crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C295 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro-748 planes of the IAF under a project that entails manufacturing of military aircraft in India for the first time by a private company.

The regulatory approval for the ambitious programme was accorded by the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA).

Under the agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in 'fly-away' condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain within four years and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.

"When it comes to supporting the development of India's industrial capacities, Airbus is walking the talk. The latest contract underlines our continued commitment to 'Make-in-India' for an AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). In TASL, we have a most trusted and able partner that will support the ramp-up of our A320neo family aircraft that has been the poster child of democratisation and transformation of India's aviation sector. We will continue to grow our industrial footprint and the aviation and aerospace ecosystem at a fast pace in India."

Remi Maillard, President and Managing Director, Airbus India and South Asia

The programme will unlock the potential for cutting-edge design, component manufacturing, aircraft assembly, and services capabilities across the value chain, fully addressing the Government of India’s stated ambition of an ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) in defence manufacturing.

ALSO READ - Airbus C295 Military Aircraft to be manufactured in India; gets DGAQA approval

"Together with our supply chain, Airbus supports nearly 10,000 jobs in India today. By 2025, this number should rise to about 15,000. On top of this, the C295 military aircraft programme will lead to the creation of 25,000 direct and indirect jobs over 10 years," Airbus said.

ALSO READ - Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited ships the first vertical fin structure for B737

Apart from engagement with Airbus, Tata Advanced Systems also has a partnership with Airbus’ competitor Boeing wherein it manufactures floor beams for the Boeing 787, tail fin for Boeing 737 MAX, as well as fuselages for the Apache AH-64 strike helicopters.

ALSO READ – Boeing receives the 200th CH-47 crown & tail cone from Tata Advanced Systems

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Coalition of pilots' unions against single-pilot commercial flights

Jinen Gada

29 Mar 2023

In recent months, there has been growing discussion in the aviation industry about thepossibility of introducing single-pilot commercial flights.

Proponents argue that advancements in technology have made it possible for one pilot to safely operate a commercial aircraft, while opponents claim that it poses too great a risk to passenger safety.Now, a coalition of pilots' unions has formed to oppose the idea of single-pilot commercialflights.

The coalition is made up of a number of different pilots' unions from around the world,including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Allied Pilots Association (APA),International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), and the European CockpitAssociation (ECA).

Pilots Unions form coalition against single-pilot commercial flights.

Together, they are working to raise awareness about the potential dangersof single-pilot commercial flights and to advocate for the continued use of two-pilot crews.

The coalition plans “to prevent airlines and manufacturers from pushing ahead with plans toremove pilots from the flight deck, a profit-driven scheme that poses a significant safetyrisk.” ALPA, ECA, and IFALPA said they will act to “protect the flying public and counter anaggressive corporate-led lobbying campaign targeting regulators around the world, includingthe International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”

One of the primary concerns that the pilots' unions have about single-pilot commercial flightsis the issue of pilot fatigue. Even with advanced automation technology, flying an aircraft forseveral hours is an extremely demanding task that can take a toll on a pilot's mental andphysical well-being.

In addition to concerns about pilot fatigue, the pilots' unions are also worried about thepotential for technical malfunctions. While modern aircraft are equipped with advanced safetysystems, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong. With a second piloton board, there is an additional layer of safety in case of an emergency.

Without a second pilot to share the workload, the risk of fatigue-relatederrors increases significantly.

The unions believe that it is essential to maintain the current standards for crew size and qualifications in order to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members.

Flying a commercial aircraft is a complex and demanding task that requires a high level of skill and expertise. Without a second pilot on board, the risk to passenger safety increases significantly.

It is essential that all stakeholders, including airlines, regulators, and pilots, worktogether to ensure that the highest standards of safety and quality are maintained in the air.The pilots' unions have an important role to play in this process, and their concerns must betaken seriously if we are to continue to enjoy safe and reliable air travel for years to come.