The Bangalore regional centre all set to launch regular B.Tech course in Aircraft Technology and Maintenance.

Bangalore is all set to open a new chapter in aviation-engineering education. The country's first B.Tech in Aircraft Technology and Maintenance will be launched in the Silicon City during January 2011.

Surprisingly it is not an initiative of a prominent engineering college or a conventional university but of the Bangalore Regional Centre of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), branded as People's University.

The four-year B.Tech (ATM) course has many firsts to its credit. It is the first such course at the graduate level that focuses on aircraft maintenance and is application oriented unlike the existing B.E. or B.Tech courses which concentrate on the design aspect of an aircraft.

It is not a distant learning programme but the first engineering course offered in the conventional face-to-face learning model, having regular classes, by the IGNOU.

Another unique feature is that admission to this course, at least for the first few years, will be open only for the diploma holders in civil/mechanical/electrical/

electronics/computer sciences having minimum of two years of technical experience.

The course has not only been designed as per All India Council for Technical Education's requirements but also the expertise required for clearing the aircraft maintenance certification of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).

Expert guidance

A team, comprising experts from IGNOU, National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), DGCA, CEMILAC, Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL), and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and led by IGNOU's Bangalore Regional Director B.S. Sudhindra, has evolved this new course after studying the needs of the booming aviation industry. The team focused on the increasing demand for qualified engineers in aircraft technology and maintenance with the establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities in civil aviation and continuous expansion of overhaul depots in defence aviation sectors.

The programme has been divided into eight semesters consisting of 33 well-structured theory courses with 216 credits and 14 practical papers having 28 credits.

The course has a total of 256 credits including 12 credits each for the two project works. IGNOU has opted for a regular mode of examination at the end of each semester.

For providing world-class practical exposure to the candidates joining the course, IGNOU is setting up a state-of-the-art laboratory at a cost of about Rs.5 crore at its new regional campus coming up at Electronics City.

The lab will have facilities for practicals covering the areas of fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, avionics, aero engines, flight simulation and microprocessor systems, and “wind tunnel,” among others.

Mr. Sudhindra told The Hindu said that it took three years for the team of experts to study the requirement of the aviation sector and prepare a curriculum, most of which is newly designed as no similar course is being taught in any of the universities or engineering colleges across the country at present.

“The course was designed under the IGNOU's policy to have regional need-based programmes. Our Vice-Chancellor V.N. Rajashekharan Pillai motivated us to come out with a unique course and we though that aircraft technology and maintenance will be an apt course as Bangalore has become a hub of the aviation sector,” Dr. Sudhindra said.

On restricting the admission to diploma holders, he said that diploma holders with two years working experience will have minimum practical knowledge when compared to those who have just completed Standard 12. “We will keep the course open only for diploma holders for the first couple of years and later look at whether we should open it for those have completed Standard 12.”

Preference will be given for admitting candidates sponsored by industries engaged in MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facilities, maintenance depots, etc.

“Already some of the industries have shown interest in sending their employees for the course,” he added.

Fees

The fee for the course has been fixed at Rs.1.48 lakh per year, including MATLAB (a numerical computing environment and fourth-generation programming language) with aerospace toolbox and some modern software.

The intake for the first batch will be 29.

It is for the first time, said Mr. Sudhindra, that subjects such as airworthiness and air regulations, airport management, unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft weapon system, etc., have been included in the syllabus of B.Tech course.

He also said that as the curriculum of the course has been newly designed, the experts, both retired and serving, from organisations such as NAL, HAL, ADE, VSSC, HAL, DGCA, CEMILAC, Indian Institute of Sciences, Indian Air Force, IGNOU, and others will be used for taking theory and practical classes.

R. Balasubramaniam, a retired scientist of NAL, who is the senior consultant for IGNOU's B.Tech (ATM), said that it has been projected by studies in the aviation sector that India will require about 5,000 to 10,000 qualified engineers for aircraft maintenance by the next five years and at present no course is available in the country for the sector.

“At present, aircraft are being sent abroad for maintenance due to lack of qualified engineers and maintenance facilities. With many MROs coming up in different places across the country, including Bangalore, the requirement of engineers with application-oriented training for aircraft maintenance will be on the rise,” pointed out Mr. Balasubramaniam.

Class timings

“As it is the first engineering course on face-to-face learning model, we intend to conduct classes during weekdays, preferably between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. as those joining can continue their job,” Mr. Sudhindra added.

The course will be started in the existing building of the regional centre and it will be moved to the new building, being built at a cost of Rs. 15 crore at Electronics City, where a state-of-the-art laboratory will also come up, by August 2011.