Interview Careers

Exciting avenues in the aviation sector for students

Cockpit of SAAB 2000 at Aero India 2011 at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore. Photo: K.Bhagya Prakash  

While the Indian job market today offers improved employment opportunities in traditional sectors such as retail, infrastructure and IT, not much attention has been paid to the aerospace sector which is also seeing a rapid increase in the number of job applicants. With the government introducing changes to aviation and defence regulatory policies, and foreign players evincing interest in making India one of the core manufacturing and service hubs, the expansion in aviation investment and growth offers brighter career prospects in this industry. In an email interview with Murali N. Krishnaswamy, the President of Honeywell Aerospace India, Arijit Ghosh, expresses confidence that with the changes underway, India will occupy a prominent position among the world’s aerospace elite in the coming decade.

Leading aircraft manufacturers and aerospace companies project India as poised to become a large commercial and defence aircraft market. Air passenger traffic is growing. Also, the country’s defence expenditure is expected to rise. How would you look at the business opportunities in these two areas?

According to estimates by leading aircraft manufacturers, India will continue to be the fastest-growing country in terms of air travel for the next 20 years. The Investment Commission of India anticipates passenger traffic to grow year over year for the next five years at a rate of over 15 per cent, and India is expected to have between 300 and 500 operational airports by 2030, states [which helps U.S. businesses participate in the global marketplace with information on trade events, tariffs and export counselling assistance], an increase from the existing 124 airports.

The Ministry of Civil Aerospace [Aviation] expects to have adequate infrastructure to handle 280 million passengers by 2020, and the government is expecting to invest $110 billion in this sector, with $80 billion in additional aircraft and $30 billion in airport infrastructure development. India’s defence budget allocation has been steadily rising over the years with the defence Budget for 2015-16 at $40 billion, up from $35 billion the previous year.

The government seeks to boost local manufacturing of defence equipment and reduce dependence on imports. Last year, Honeywell and Tata Power SED signed an agreement for Tata to produce Honeywell’s Tactical Advanced Land Inertial Navigator, or “TALIN,” in India. The Honeywell-patented technology enables vehicles and artillery to navigate very precisely, even where GPS satellite guidance is not available, to increase troop safety and maximise mission success.

With the rapid growth of the aviation industry in India, business opportunities for aerospace employees and companies are growing. For example, Honeywell is helping the Airports Authority of India drive the modernisation campaign for air traffic management systems, preparing the groundwork for its Ground-Based Augmentation System pilot project at Chennai International Airport.

How do you expect this to tap into the student talent pool?

The Indian aerospace industry is one of the fastest-growing aerospace markets in the world, attracting major global aerospace companies to India. To meet the demands of the growing industry, the country has a large talent pool of English-speaking engineering graduates; approximately 5,00,000 graduate as engineers each year from universities around the country.

India is said to be the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world and could become the third largest by 2020. This would translate into providing world-class maintenance facilities, technological solutions and services, wouldn’t it?

Bengaluru is the aerospace capital of India, and many large aerospace companies, including Honeywell Aerospace, have chosen to set up technology development facilities there.

Honeywell finds and cultivates first-class aerospace talent in India. We hire electrical, electronics, chemical, mechanical, production, and manufacturing engineers, as well as science majors with post-doctoral degrees in subjects such as physics and math, material sciences or metallurgy.

In addition, we try to help our recruits develop a passion for this field. At Honeywell Aerospace, we have a large pool of aerospace engineers and hence are able to introduce new hires to a community of aero veterans. Of our total 15,000-strong employee base in India; approximately 8,000 are engineers, around 2,800 of whom are aerospace engineers. It is one thing to recruit an engineer and [quite] another thing to train him/her to become a successful aerospace engineer. This requires years of education, development, and training.

As far as aerospace studies and education and the field of aviation and technology are concerned, what are the strengths and minuses of India? Does a manufacturer or company still consider a foreign degree to be an advantage? Does a manufacturer or company still consider a foreign degree to be an advantage? How do the Canadian, British and Australian education markets feature in this? And which country would you think offers the best academic foundation in the subject?

Above all, Honeywell values graduates with the knowledge and passion for aviation. India possesses some of the top aerospace engineering institutes in the world, such as the IITs in Bombay, Madras and Kharagpur. Some universities also have relationships with aerospace companies, including Honeywell, to carry out collaborative research and provide faculty and students with development opportunities.

When one thinks of the aviation industry, perhaps the most coveted jobs are those that involve commercial flying. What are the equally rewarding opportunities especially in research and development?

It takes many aviation professionals, including aeronautical engineers, manufacturing processes experts and systems integration experts, to build a plane. Aeronautical engineering is an especially promising career path given the significant Indian industry expansion and wide application in space exploration, commercial aviation, and civil and defence systems. Honeywell in India has seven manufacturing locations and five global technology and engineering centres where these professionals work.

India is home to a number of software providers and aviation and aerospace companies, though on a medium scale. There is also intense competition in the Asia region. How would you pitch this to a prospective student of aviation technology?

India has an important role to play in the Asia Pacific region. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Asia Pacific region is very important to the aviation industry as 40% of all air travel takes place in this region. For example, aviation and aviation-enabled tourism accounts for over 24 million jobs and over $500 billion in economic activity across the Asia-Pacific region. In the next 20 years, the Asia Pacific region is predicted to be the largest aviation market, which means there will be many career opportunities for those working in the aviation industry.

The aviation industry is made up of many dimensions. Could you highlight the careers possible in its core area of engineering and technology and related fields such as finance; information technology; law and government relations; human resources and communications; marketing and business development; operations and sales?

Aviation companies have different departments, such as finance and communications, to make sure the company succeeds. While aerospace engineering professionals are responsible for the products, other departments allow the continued creation and sale of aerospace products and services.

There are various career opportunities, such as an aerospace engineer, operations technician, aeronautical design technologist, aircraft mechanic, stress engineer and aerospace simulation engineer, among others. If you do not come from a technical education background, other areas such as finance, human resources or communications are available.

How does the quest for new material and cutting-edge technology in aviation and avionics spell prospects for a student of aviation technology as well as professionals already in the field? What are the scholarships available?

India’s aerospace field is growing due to increased state support of local aerospace manufacturing, research and training. This growth is being aided further by increases in specialised aviation education and training in the public and private sectors.

A constantly-evolving industry presents students with new opportunities to contribute and explore new avenues to find their way into the aviation industry. India is estimated to have about 11,200 colleges, 1,500 research institutes, and the second largest pool of technologists and engineers in the world. Students who are studying at aerospace engineering institutes can contribute by developing research in partnership with international universities and government agencies such as Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). IIT Kharagpur has its own aerodynamics and propulsion laboratories, while IIT Bombay is carrying out exciting research projects on computational fluid dynamics and computational aerodynamics.

Honeywell is committed to fostering a passion for aviation from a young age through partnerships with Indian schools and universities. Investing in future aviation experts is critical to addressing the skills gap as India’s aviation industry continues to grow rapidly. Honeywell’s CSR [corporate social responsibility] initiatives influence academia in India, boosting an interest in and understanding of the aviation sector. Honeywell invests in strategic relationships to more than 15 premier technology institutions in India to make graduates industry-ready.

What is your advice to students who are thinking of a career in the aviation industry and its related fields?

Students with the motivation and aptitude to pursue a career in aerospace should acquire the education to enter their preferred field. India is an important civil aviation destination and has a tremendous untapped potential for growth. A strong knowledge of mathematics helps in carrying out modelling and complex calculations required for design and analysis jobs. Proficiency in flight theory depends on physics and math skills, so knowledge of these subjects is an advantage. In addition, strong technical and problem-solving skills are helpful.

However, all kinds of professionals are necessary to make aviation in India successful. Honeywell needs employees gifted in many industries, including engineering, business, finance and communication. If someone is interested in the aviation industry, there are many career paths to choose from.

What about the academic prospects in aviation? And how does it tie in and connect with industry?

The manpower requirements for the Indian aviation industry are expected to double for airlines within the next six years. Currently, there is a shortage of skilled manpower in the aviation sector, so applicants with a strong education background will be valued. In addition, major airlines in India provide their own cadet pilot training, or arrange for it with the CAE simulator company in Bengaluru. Pilots are able to receive the Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and Type Rating (TR) training and learn to fly on A320s, B737 and B777 simulators.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:56:42 PM |

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