France and Europe are India's strategic and top partners in the civil aviation and aeronautical industry sectors.

Civil aviation has experienced two very difficult years worldwide. The second “India Aviation” being held in Hyderabad in 2010 under the auspices of Praful Patel, Hon'ble Minister of State for Civil Aviation, is therefore a sign of hope for this sector so vital for our economies and our future. It is also the unmistakable sign that India is fast building its ambition in civil aviation and is bound to become one of the global “front fliers” of this century. Indeed, the development of aeronautics is both a condition and an integral part of economic growth. In India it is a key element to better connectivity, a more secure environment, better attractiveness, notably with the development of tourism. Remarkable progress has been made since the early 2000s in terms of airports, new routes, and more positive evolutions are underway. This is why France has faith in and supports India's aeronautical strategy.

France and the European Union have been key partners of India for decades; they wish to continue and deepen this partnership for the development of Indian civil aviation. After his visit to Le Bourget Air Show last year in June, Mr. Patel and Dominique Bussereau, French Minister of Transport, decided to give a fresh impetus to Indo-French relations in civil aviation. It was then agreed that France would be the partner country for India Aviation 2010: with the FICCI, the French authorities and companies were instrumental in making this show a vivid example of the thrust of this sector.

Moreover, the political framework for aeronautical cooperation between our two countries has been reinforced through the signing of three agreements last month in Paris, covering flight safety, airline management, airport infrastructure, aircraft maintenance, air traffic management and training.

This political framework is the foundation of a buoyant industrial presence of French and European companies in India. Last year, India became the third biggest destination of civil aviation exports from the European Union. All our top companies are present in India. Airbus is a star supplier for many airline companies of India with more than 150 aircraft flying under Indian colours. Convinced that India will remain one of its strong partners, Airbus will take the opportunity of the Hyderabad air show to deliver two more A 320s, one for Air India and one for Indigo. The future may even lead to a delivery of the A380, since Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is already transforming its runways and equipment to accommodate this new jumbo jet.

Since the demand for air transport in India is not limited to big hubs, ATR, the regional aircraft company, is already a major flyer in the Indian sky with 50 aircraft in operation in 2010, with more to come. Dassault is also flying in the Indian corporate sky and delivered its first 7X to India last month, the most modern long-range corporate jet presented at the Hyderabad air show.

Eurocopter — world leader in helicopters — is convinced that this mode of transport can only thrive in India. India Aviation 2010 will be the right time to make public the signature of an agreement in view of the delivery of seven Dauphin helicopters, three options and a flight simulator.

CFM-International, the joint Franco-U.S. company that supplies jet engines will be one of the major actors in Hyderabad. Its training centre for the maintenance of CFM56 jet engines was inaugurated on the March 2, 2010 in the presence of its CEO. It thus demonstrates that our companies believe in India's becoming an industrial and services platform in the near future.

This training centre is paving the way for new developments. Many European aeronautical companies are thinking of opening Maintenance and Repair Outlets in India. It is one of the key elements for the development of Indian expertise in this sector, and the positioning of India as a world class maintenance hub.

But civil aviation does not stop at flying machines. Airports, air traffic management, safety issues are also major areas for our partnerships to explore. French authorities and companies are already here and willing to reinforce their presence with their Indian partner companies. They help build safer skies, quicker connections, and more fuel efficient procedures. EADS aircraft, the rationalisation of air traffic routes and controls are providing the means for more environment-friendly aircraft and helping reduce a country's carbon footprint. Thalès, leader in Europe for the new air traffic management programme, is also the illustration of Europe's willingness to support India in its efforts to secure its air space by improving its air guidance procedures and the overall management of air routes.

Further, thirteen French SMEs are present at India Aviation 2010. Aviation started in Europe with SMEs and they have always been a key element in the competitiveness of this sector in Europe and elsewhere.

France, and particularly its aeronautical sector, does not maintain a mere client and customer relation with India. Our relationship aims at a long-term and dedicated partnership. We believe in India's ability to become a major aeronautical player in the coming years, and we believe that aeronautics will be one of the flagships of Indian industrial development. Believing in a strong Indian air industry is believing in this country's technological future.

(Jérôme Bonnafont is French Ambassador to India.)


2 pilots killed in Hyderabad air crashMarch 3, 2010

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