The SpiceJet plane, SG-945, was attempting a landing at Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in West Bengal's Durgapur when it encountered a storm, locally known as Kalbaisakhi. The oxygen masks dropped and luggage fell out of the overhead bins on the passengers, injuring several.
India's aviation regulator DGCA today said it has constituted a multidisciplinary team to probe the severe turbulence incident on SpiceJet’s Mumbai-Durgapur flight that left 15 people injured on May 1.
The aircraft took off from Mumbai a few minutes after 5 PM on Sunday, May 1 and was on its approach to Durgapur’s Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport after a two-hour flight when it encountered severe turbulence that caused the passenger injuries.
The 189-seater aircraft, however, landed safely at Durgapur at 7:15 PM, following which the injured passengers were provided medical attention. It was not just the passengers but also some cabin crew members who suffered injuries. These people received head and spinal injuries.
"We have deputed a multidisciplinary team to carry out a regulatory investigation (into this incident)," DGCA chief Arun Kumar told PTI.
SpiceJet clarified that the seat belt sign was on and multiple announcements were made by crew members asking passengers to remain seated.
SpiceJet spokesperson said, “Eleven passengers travelling on SpiceJet flight SG-945 from Mumbai to Durgapur on May 1, which encountered severe turbulence during descent which unfortunately resulted in injuries to a few passengers, were hospitalised.”
A total of 15 people — 12 passengers and three cabin crew members — were injured in this flight due to severe turbulence, according to DGCA officials. Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the matter is being "dealt with utmost seriousness and deftness".
"The turbulence encountered by a flight while landing in Durgapur, and the damage caused to the passengers is unfortunate. The DGCA has deputed a team to investigate the incident. The matter is being dealt with utmost seriousness and deftness. More details on the cause(s) will be shared once the investigation is completed (sic)," Scindia tweeted.
However, there is no confirmation whether the Air Traffic Controller or the pilot flying the aircraft were informed of the storm. An enquiry into the matter is underway.
As a standard practice, the investigation will focus on a number of factors to ascertain why it was that the incident caused severe injuries to the passengers.
These include the weather conditions when the plane encountered turbulence, whether or not the pilots were caught unprepared when they encountered the turbulence and whether they asked the cabin to prepare for incoming disturbances to the flight.
Notably, the passenger charter of rights issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2019, says that for domestic travel, in case of death or bodily injury to a passenger on-board an aircraft, the airline is liable to pay up to INR 20 lakh per passenger.
In 2021, The Government of India was prompt in declaring the country's aerospace & defence market to be worth INR 85,000 crore. With heightened ambitions for 2022, the government now wants the industry to hit INR 1 lakh crore in 2022.
How can India achieve this?
With the incumbent government stressing the need for indigenization of the projects in the aerospace and defence sector under the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ the task at hand is not a small one, especially with the long-term target for the sector being worth INR 5 lakh crore by 2047.
Representative | Times Now
Self-reliance is a great idea for a country like India, as the country stood at the #1 position on a list of the largest arms importers between 2017 and 2021, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia, and China (according to SIPRI's Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2021). During this period, India was astoundingly responsible for 11% of the global arms imports. Moreover, the aerospace industry, which is largely limited to government-owned entities like HAL, NAL, and ISRO, has a high import dependency on raw materials and bought-out items for the production of indigenous technology.
Representative | The Hans India
The border tensions with China also exposed the issue of defence equipment procurement on short notice, to enhance combat effectiveness. When the skirmishes were taking place at the Indo-China border, reports suggested that the Indian Army lacked terrain-specific weapons, combat vehicles, and more. To bridge this gap in equipment and weapons, the Indian armed forces were granted emergency financial powers of capital and revenue procurement. Such debilitating dependence on the import of defence products clearly needs solutions – the biggest one being the focus on the manufacture and procurement of indigenous defence components.
Illustrative | IBTimes India
With manufacturing in the aerospace and defence industry being termed as one of the important pillars of the 'Make in India 2.0' initiative, there is a great opportunity to be explored. India has a great defence industrial base which includes 9 defence public sector undertakings, 41 ordinance factories (which have now merged into 7 DPSu's), research organizations, and private companies over 100. Additionally, the Ministry of Defence has been appealing to India's allies with a refreshed focus to manufacture in India.
Addressing the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) last year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “We have told every friendly country that we want to produce the military platforms, weapons and ammunition in India itself, keeping in mind the security of the country.” He further said that he had also conveyed this message to the USA, Russia, and France (India's biggest arms suppliers).
Rajnath Singh | NDTV
Besides, the Government of India had also announced on 1 August 2020, that it would stop the import of 101 weapons and military platforms like light combat helicopters, cruise missiles, conventional submarines, and more by 2024. The government released yet another list on 31 May 2021 with restrictions on 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, radars etc. They later released a third list, of banned items which include lightweight tanks, 155 millimetres, 52 calibres mounted artillery gun systems, Guided Extended Range (GER) rockets and more.
The Centre has cancelled close to INR 60,000 crore worth of ‘Buy-Global’ cases
With fresh impetus, India has been looking at manufacturing to produce world-class products in the aerospace and defence space. But this capital, skill, and technology-intensive industry need to adopt the Industry 4.0 methodology to develop and grow faster.
Adoption of Industry 4.0 is key
Industry 4.0 technologies could be key to unlocking future competitiveness for India’s A&D industry as the next generation of aircraft manufacturing will certainly be based on it. This needs to start with the digitalization of the aircraft manufacturing process from the very beginning, including the parts specifications, drawings, engineering, manufacturing, qualification, serial production, quality assurance, transportation, and the assembly of the aircraft. There are a clear and compelling case for Aerospace and Defence (A&D) companies to leverage these technologies and incorporate digital transformation throughout their organizations.
Representative | PD Solutions
At the turn of the century, India started seeing an increased level of participation from private companies in the aerospace and defence sector. Such participation from the private players needs to be encouraged further now as they can play a crucial role in propelling the sector to higher echelons as they are not bound by the shackles of government. They can hence, innovate at a rapid pace and deliver results in R&D and manufacture at a much faster rate.
Representative | pib.gov.in
Industry 4.0 can thus help manufacturers improve their productivity and efficiency. Technology deployed across manufacturing stages can help companies keep track of their production and analyze the data across their facilities. This could result in higher efficiency of processes and high-quality products at relatively lesser costs. The sooner companies evolve into agile, modern businesses, the faster the industry can scale.
COVER: Aero Time
Vistara's enrolment in Tata Neu delayed, loyalty points system under development
Vistara's enrolment in Tata Group's super app Tata Neu will take time as both the entities are working on a model on how a passenger's loyalty points can be used on the other, the airline's Chief Commercial Officer Deepak Rajawat said.
Tata Neu, which was launched on April 7, gives loyalty points "Neu" to its customers for every purchase done on the app. Similarly, Vistara has a frequent flyer programme called "Club Vistara" and it gives "CV points" to its passengers for every purchase done in its ecosystem.
Tata Group's AirAsia India is already on Tata Neu. However, the group's other three airlines -- Vistara, Air India and Air India Express -- have not joined Tata Neu as yet.
Tata Neu gives loyalty points "Neu" to its customers for every purchase done on the app.
ALSO READ - Air India intends to purchase a 100% stake in AirAsia India; Tatas to relocate all 4 airlines to Gurgaon
Last week, Air India applied with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to merge AirAsia India with itself. It is not clear if and when Vistara and Air India will be merged. However, Club Vistara is here to stay, he said.
On whether Neu points could be used to buy tickets on Vistara or if CV points could be used to buy products on the Tata Neu app, Rajawat told PTI, "Our model is not finalised yet." "Tata group companies that are giving these (Neu) points and how it will burn on Vistara (to buy air tickets) is something we are working on," he added.
Tata group had on April 7 launched its super app, Tata Neu, bringing all its brands to one platform as it seeks to play a major role in the Indian e-commerce space currently dominated by the likes of Amazon and Flipkart.
Rajawat told PTI, "Most of the major brand companies like Vistara and Titan are working closely to come to a stage of enrolling on that platform (Neu app)."
When asked by when Vistara will be part of Tata Neu, he said, "We are working but it will take time because the system integration and those (other) things have to take place."
In September 2019, Club Vistara had about 1.6 million (one million = 10 lakh) members. Club Vistara touched the three million mark in the last month, Rajawat said.
"In the last two years, we wanted to grow to five million at least but because of the slowdown in travel during the last 18-24 months, the numbers are not that high. Plus, we have deferred our growth also," he mentioned. The airline plans to double the number of Club Vistara members in the next few years, he noted.
Vistara's partnership with five airlines -- United Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines -- gives an "earn-and-burn" facility to frequent flyer program members, he mentioned.
Earn-and-burn means frequent flyer program members of the two partner airlines can earn the points while travelling on any of the two carriers and use the points to buy tickets on any of the two airlines.
Apart from the aforementioned five airlines, Club Vistara is currently in partnership with 35 non-aviation companies that are in segments such as car rental, retail, health, dining and hotels.
When asked if Vistara has set an aim about the number of companies that it wants to partner with by 2025-end for Club Vistara, he said, "We do not want to work on a target that this X number of partners we want." "We want to keep the program in a way that suits the requirements of the members. We keep researching what the customer needs...and we constantly rework the benefits that we offer," he added.
"Targeting 100 or 200 partners -- that is not the game we are looking at. We want to keep it a very niche product and work on that," he mentioned. When asked what steps will make Club Vistara a lifestyle programme, he said, "Once we go international, there is far more attractiveness that comes in. Today, Vistara's 80% operations are domestic and only the remaining 20% are international."
Once Vistara grows its footprints globally -- like how people can book tickets on the airline's flights to London, Paris and Frankfurt right now -- the attractiveness of the frequent flyer programme will increase, he mentioned.
"We are working to develop non-air partnerships this year...We are focusing on that," he noted. There are four tiers in Club Vistara comprising Base, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Customers who belong to the Gold and Platinum category get a separate customer service helpline, which is managed by Praxis Services Private Limited.
On the question of whether the airline plans to make any changes in its customer service system for Platinum or Gold Club Vistara Members, he said, "No, I don't think so. We are happy with the changes that we have brought along with Praxis. Of course, there is always a scope for improvement that we will try and do."
"We intend to reduce the waiting time for the calls even when there are high volumes. We want to give them an experience where they can call up easily and get through. That is why we have a dedicated separate call centre for premium customers," he mentioned.
Tata Group took control of Air India and Air India Express on January 27 after successfully winning the bid for the airline on October 8, 2021.
WinAir (We Indian Nationals) Aviation Pvt Ltd, touted as India’s first parallel airline company, has announced acquiring a 79% equity stake in Hyderabad - headquartered regional airline TruJet, owned by Turbo Megha Airways Pvt Ltd, for INR 200 crore.
A parallel airline uses the equipment and operating permits of an existing airline operator by optimally utilising the leased aircraft and idle hours of the existing airlines in viable routes.
TruJet to sell its 79% equity stake to WinAir
A parallel airline is a new concept that means utilizing an existing operator who has equipment (Aircraft, NOC, NSOP) and an operating permit. In short, the aircraft are leased utilizing their license and viable routes are planned. In other words, it is just like utilizing the idle hours of the existing airlines, this is the first time in the world that such a module is being framed.
“With our experienced team, we will revitalise TruJet through the infusion of fresh capital and improve its performance. Needless to say, the synergy will bring in more benefits for the end consumers. By December TruJet will be able to fly 17 aircraft a day along with 3 backup aircraft (Aircraft ATR-600).”Samuel Timothy, Chairman and Managing Director, WinAir
In a statement on May 1, WinAir said it will take over the management control and operations of TruJet. WinAir said the managing director of TruJet Umesh Vankayalapati signed the term sheet agreement with WinAir’s chairman and managing director Samuel Timothy on April 26.
Vankayalapati will remain as the managing director and he along with Timothy will guide the new management team with a new business plan, said the statement, adding that the deal comes as a major relief to TruJet’s 650 employees and their families.
Following this deal, WinAir said it is all set to roll out scheduled commuter operations.
By December TruJet will be able to fly 17 aircraft a day along with 3 backup aircraft (Aircraft ATR-600)
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WinAir is associated with the Aaryan Group of Companies, which are into various business streams like media and entertainment, infrastructure and real estate, food and beverage, hospitality, green energy, heavy industries, finance, education, business ancillary services, healthcare, gold refinery, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, electric vehicles, agriculture, and organic farming, among others.
Commenting on the concept of parallel airline operations, Timothy said, “By the virtue of this parallel approach, we could create a new system connecting cities and towns toeing in line with the present government concept of Make in India, Made in India. More viable routes could be planned in the future.”
TruJet receives a notice from aircraft lessor Elix to ground its 3 ATRs
ALSO READ - TruJet receives a notice from aircraft lessor Elix to ground its 3 ATRs
Recently, Leasing company Elix sent a notice to TruJet to ground three aircraft. The Ireland-based lessor has applied to the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the deregistration of the ATRs leased to the debt-strapped regional airline.
According to documents, Elix applied for the Irrevocable De-Registration and Export Request Authorisation (IDERA) deregistration on April 5 for three ATR 72-212A registered numbers VT-TMU, VT-TMP and VT-TMK. As per protocol, the DGCA sent a notification to all the necessary parties involved on April 11.
Boeing rolls out the "T-7A Red Hawk"- its first trainer jet in over five decades
01 May 2022
01 May 2022
In what can be termed a first, Boeing has pulled the curtains off the production of its first T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer jet for the United States Air Force at its St. Louis, Mo., facilities on April 28.
T-7A Red Hawk - the next generation of pilot training
The T-7A is a joint venture between Boeing and Saab, touted to replace the Northrop T-38 trainer, which has been in service for half a century and will be phased out beginning in 2023.
Northrop T-38 trainer | Military.com
The Red Hawk builds off the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, paying tribute to the legends of the past and the heroes of the future. The canopy rail of the rollout jet was painted with the names of Red Tails commander, the late Brigadier General Charles McGee and Lt. Col. George Hardy, who attended the event. Boeing showed videos honouring the Tuskegee Airmen and linking the jet to their legacy.
The Tuskegee Airmen | History.com
The Tuskegee Airmen are one of the most celebrated units in our Air Force history, and the T-7A honors the bravery and skill of these trailblazers. Like the Airmen they were named and painted to pay homage to, the T-7A Red Hawks break down the barriers of flight. These digitally-engineered aircraft will make it possible for a diverse cross section of future fighter and bomber pilots to be trained, and provide an advanced training system and capabilities that will meet the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s national security environmentsaid Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Tech and specs
According to Boeing, the T-7A is ergonomically designed, equally for both- pilots and the ground crew, with access panels set at a comfortable height that gives easy access to the internal components.
Compared to traditional aircraft development programs, the T-7A experienced:
A 75% increase improvement in first-time engineering qualityAn 80% reduction in assembly hoursA 50% reduction in software development and verification time
Having taken three years in the making- right from the concept to the first flight, the design of the aircraft included a modular design, developed specifically for maintainers, highly immersive training and offloading of skills and advanced fighter-like performance features that are commensurate with today’s 4th and 5th-gen fighter aircraft. This feature of commonality allows the use of existing maintenance infrastructure, further lowering life cycle costs.
T-7A RedHawk Simulator | FlightGlobal
The Red Hawk’s fighter-like design and performance, combined with embedded and live virtual constructive training, allows the download of training tasks from the existing fleet to a lesser cost platform while simultaneously delivering realistic training solutions that better prepare pilots for the training mission.
Crew2Powerplant1 × General Electric F404-GE-103 afterburning turbofan, 11,000 lbf (49 kN) thrust dry, 17,000 lbf with afterburnerWikipedia
It is history in the making. The T-7A has already … revolutionized how aircraft are designed and built. It won’t be the last new airplane designed this wayBoeing bombers and fighters vice president Steve Parker said
The aircraft also has an in-built adaptive capability wherein it can be easily adapted to changing technologies and learning methods.
The T-7A’s design also includes provisions for growth as requirements evolve for additional missions such as an aggressor, light attack/fighter variant.
Ironically, the rollout comes just a day after Boeing announced the loss of $367 million on the T-7A in the first quarter of 2022.
However, though, David L. Calhoun- CEO and president of Boeing, stated that the aircraft will be in service “for decades” and will be built in large numbers, and should eventually be profitable for Boeing.
David L. Calhoun | The New York Times
The first T-7A squadron is to be operational in 2024. Furthermore, Boeing aims to sell over 2,700 Red Hawks globally.
Jyotiraditya Scindia meets US aerospace giants for boosting collaboration with India
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia held discussions with American aerospace giants on further strengthening collaboration with the industry in India.
Scindia arrived in New York on Thursday, April 28 for the first leg of his visit to North America and began his engagements with discussions with New York-based technology-powered, global air mobility platform Blade.
On Thursday, April 28, he also interacted with members of the Indian diaspora during a session and reception hosted by the Consul General of New York Randhir Jaiswal.
Scindia’s engagements on Friday, April 29 began with a round table hosted by the US-India Business Council. The roundtable, attended by senior industry leaders, focussed on “ways to strengthen” collaboration between India and the US across the aviation sector.
“Had a productive interaction with members of @USIBC from the aviation community. Spoke about the growing focus & opportunities in regional connectivity & urban air mobility in India,” Scindia tweeted.
Later, he met the vice president at aerospace and defence giant Raytheon Technologies Ambassador Paul Jones and Senior Vice President at American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rick Duerloo.
“Discussed potential collaboration for enhancing the civil aviation infrastructure ecosystem in India, including setting up MROs and furthering our GAGAN project,” Scindia tweeted, referring to the GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation, a Space-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) jointly developed by Indian Space Research Organisation and Airports Authority of India to provide navigational services over Indian FIR (Flight Information Region).
Scindia also had a detailed discussion with the vice president at Sikorsky Hamid Salim on deepening Lockheed Martin’s engagement with India, “including developments in the helicopter sector and setting up the offset and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facilities in India.”
Scindia will travel to Canada on Monday, May 2 where he will visit the Bombardier and Airbus facilities, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) headquarters as well as the Air India Memorial.