By Staff Correspondent
The MRO Association of India organised the 10th instalment of its flagship annual forum under the banner of ‘Aero MRO India 2022’. The event’s theme was ‘India: A MRO Hub’ and saw participation from stakeholders across the board. The two-day industry forum began on 3 November at the Hotel Pride Plaza at Aerocity, New Delhi.
With Indian Aerospace & Defence’s recap series, be sure to never miss a beat of important addresses at ‘Aero MRO India A&D 2022’.
Bharat Malkani, the President of the MRO Association of India, retraced the steps taken to set up the groundwork for a leading industry association now a decade in the works.
He started off by highlighting that the event had moved into double digits, entering its 10th year. The idea was conceived among a handful of people (including Pulak Sen and Ravi S. Menon) who based their actions on the question, “How do we take this industry forward?” Malkani said that the industry was then run by a few companies. MROs did not have a presence and were clubbed with ground handling in those days. However, he pointed out that things have taken a turn for the better now.
The President acknowledged the role of the government in bringing about this change. He said, “I must give real credit to this government for making the change. I tell you, the issues we have fought for– GST, customs, and ease of doing business– it has made a real change. It is because of the dispensations and positive approach.” Malkani briefly addressed the well-known potential of the MRO segment. He directed attention to the “huge palate of opportunities for each and every one of the stakeholders” within the MRO sector. He went on to note that for those who want to be in the field in terms of market, OEMs, and MROs, “India does present a clear and present opportunity for investment. It is now, when the market is still nascent, that you have an easier point of entry.”
The President was of the view that in the next few years, the barrier to entry in MRO will be so large that OEMs have to rethink their processes. “What makes us tick? For years and years as a country, when we were children, we were given two options by our parents (at least most of us, anyway): to be a doctor or an engineer. That was it. The buck stopped there. What we ended up having is a country of so many well-trained, well-educated people. Today, whether you go to the United States or the UK, the bulk of the engineering is done here. I know when I say this that organisations like GE and Boeing have large back offices here. We are the very people who run the MRO. We have created this. It is our thrust; it is our drive towards engineering excellence from a country that is just about 75 years old. It is a very young country,” he said emphatically.
Touching upon the MRO association’s interaction with the government, he revealed that a chord had been struck, with the association holding ground conveying that if they are to grow, they will need the government’s support. “We’ve been getting that support. I admit things need to be done, but the bulk of the support is coming. The stakeholders are now incorporated within the system to bring it forward,” he said.
He further pointed out how the status quo had shifted from a time when the person who decided while the industry remained unconsulted. “Now you have joint decision-making. That is the real difference.” Malkani also talked about finance. He said that the current bill is close to 2.5-3 billion dollars in MRO, and is going to hit five billion plus. “There is a good chance that we are looking at a trillion-dollar economy, which is the clarion call of our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Mr Modi. Speaking about another financial angle, the President said that “the brightest and the best MROs invest back a fair amount of their profit into R&D and start becoming manufacturers. It is inevitable. I don’t see anything stopping it. I don’t see regulation issues; I don’t see cost issues.”