Last month, Infinity Air Group’s (IAG) President & CEO Jimmy Wu attended the 2022 India Aerospace Trade Mission organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration. The trip proved as inspirational as it was informative, with Mr. Wu walking away with significant insights into India's aerospace future and IAG's role in its development.
Here are his top four takeaways from the mission.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Reaffirms the U.S.’s Commitment to Strengthening its Presence in the Indo-Pacific Region
Ryan Engen of the U.S. Embassy in India spoke about the IPEF on the Trade Mission’s first day. Launched by the Biden Administration in May 2022, the IPEF is as much about mitigating the Indo-Pacific region’s reliance on China as it is about deepening U.S. economic engagement in the area. Since the U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in 2017, China has been steadily filling in the resulting chasm with its influence—the IPEF is the U.S.’s direct response.
Specifically, the IPEF sets out to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region with vigorous trade, improved and resilient supply chain routes, bolstered regional efforts against climate change, and robust new markets for American businesses. Among these new markets, India’s aviation sector stands apart as one filled with immense potential for an organization such as IAG.
The Aviation Sector is Key to the Future of U.S.-India Economic Engagement
India's aviation sector is fast-growing and brimming with business opportunities. The International Air Transport Association forecasts that by 2025 it will have 442 million passengers and 19.1 million jobs, with a 172 billion contribution to India's GDP. During the trade mission, Indian government officials demonstrated the seriousness with which they take these projections, expounding the various initiatives they’ve put forth to position India among the international aviation sector’s three major players over the next two decades.
One such initiative is the Vision 2040 roadmap which outlines the development needs the sector must address to meet the growing demand, including a five-fold increase in the number of airports. With these airports must come more aircraft, as there are currently only 700 commercial aircraft in India. The Boeing representative in attendance suggested that India would need an additional 2,500 passenger aircraft to meet demands. All these aircraft will require Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) and Used Serviceable Materials (USM), two vital elements of a thriving aviation sector missing in India.
Currently, 90% of India’s MRO activity occurs outside the country, mainly in Singapore, Turkey, the EU, and Malaysia. However, given its strategic location between Europe and Southwest Asia, India has the potential to become a regional MRO hub. Additionally, unlike in the U.S., there is no tradition of repairing, refurbishing, and reusing used goods in India, which can undermine the long-term sustainability of its nascent aviation sector. India needs a partner like IAG with the experience, expertise, and resources to establish a strong and sustainable local MRO and USM market in partnership with Indian suppliers, operators, and end users.
IAG is keen on becoming that partner, as evidenced by our presence as the only USM, FAA 145/EASA, spare parts distribution, asset management, and tear-down and end-of-life solutions company in the Trade Mission.
The First Step in Building an MRO and USM Market in India: Establishing Reliability
What helps the U.S. maintain a thriving MRO and USM market is the industry’s adherence to the business standards and guidelines set forth by the Aviation Supplies Association (ASA). IAG President & CEO Jimmy Wu sits on the ASA Board of Directors. With more than 725 global member companies, including IAG, representing distributors, suppliers, repair stations, and others, the ASA informs the U.S. aviation industry’s decisions on safety, international compliance, and ethical business practices. U.S. airlines do not do business with aftermarket suppliers who are not ASA accredited.
Without a similar organization providing the framework for industry-wide standardization and reliability, any USM and MRO market in India will falter on the global stage and the airlines—whether established or new—will fall short of their potential. Take, for example, the recent plight of Air India, the only Indian airline with flights into the U.S. Ten of their aircraft were grounded earlier this summer because of a lack of access to reliable components, spares, and engine overhaul. Such a bottom-line-destroying crisis is avoidable with reliable MRO and USM markets. But, for that reliability, there must be assurances that products and services in these markets meet or exceed those of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) aftermarket. IAG can work with the ASA to create the needed assurances in India through a framework of industry-wide standards, policies, and procedures.
The Second Step in Building an MRO and USM Market in India: Ensuring Sustainability.
IAG’s partners in India would benefit from IAG’s ability to recover value by rebuilding Beyond Economical Repair (BER) parts, provide FAA-accepted and Designated Engineering Representative (DER) repairs, and extend component life cycles. In addition, hiring and training a new generation of workers in these areas of expertise would help make sustainability a seamless component of India’s USM and MRO markets.
IAG’s future stands on high-precision manufacturing capabilities and a team of the highest skilled aerospace technicians. With its demand and untapped potential, India is a critical partner in that future and an important market among G20 nations in the next decade. The entire IAG family, Infinity Air, Inc. and Allflight Corporation, are excited about the future of the Indian aviation and aerospace sector and are keen on being a part of it.