“Over the next five years, India has the potential to be a critical and strategic sourcing location for all aerospace and defence manufacturers. Leading manufacturers are also tapping into the abundant engineering talent available in India for innovation.”
May 2022: In this exclusive interview with Niranjan Mudholkar, Editorial Director of Pro MFG Media, Kishore Jayaraman, President – India & South Asia, Rolls‐Royce, states that ‘with a high aircraft order backlog, strategic geographic location, rich pool of engineering expertise and competitive labour cost, India is quickly gaining prominence in the global footprint of leading OEMs in the aerospace sector’.
How would you describe Rolls-Royce’s long-standing partnership with the Indian aerospace industry in the context of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’?
Rolls-Royce has a long, shared legacy of partnership with India spanning nearly nine decades, starting with its engines powering the first commercial aircraft of Tata Aviation back in 1932 and the first flight of the Indian Air Force Number One Squadron in 1933. Since then, we have been a long-term partner to the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, as well as several local businesses. Today, over 750 engines of 10 engine types are powering various aircrafts of the Indian military.
Ours is the original ‘Make in India’ story as Rolls-Royce engines have been made in India, under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for over 60 years and this partnership has only grown stronger year on year. We have been manufacturing and sourcing in India with Indian partners and our ecosystem has world class component manufacturing facilities as well as high-skilled talent and supply chain capabilities. With such a strong ecosystem of partnerships, a rich talent pool and many decades of capability development here, we believe Rolls-Royce is well-positioned to support collaborative programs for co-development of technology as well as co-manufacturing programmes for the growing aerospace and defence sector.
As we look to the future, the civil aerospace sector also presents great opportunities with new airports and infrastructure, more international and domestic routes opening up, fresh investments and new players gearing up to take to the skies. India is well-poised for phenomenal growth over the next decade and estimated to become the third largest air passenger market overtaking the United Kingdom. As India’s airlines prepare to cater to this growing demand, we look forward to supporting airline companies to induct wide-body aircraft into their fleet to offer a value-driven mix that balances cost and comfort, while also focusing on environment and safety.
We are committed to strengthening our distinguished legacy by collaborating with local partners, building capabilities, developing cutting-edge technological solutions, advancing the digital ecosystem, empowering STEM talent and building the future workforce.
How has Rolls-Royce leveraged on the UK’s Carrier Strike Group tour to India in terms of showcasing some of its cutting-edge technological innovations?
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group tour to India was a significant opportunity for Rolls-Royce to engage with Indian naval customers and showcase the results of decades of innovation in naval power and propulsion. Our experience of supporting the electrification of the Royal Navy’s warships over many years is of particular significance, including the design and deployment of the world’s first hybrid-electric naval system. As India envisions the fleet of the future, we believe that we can bring great learnings and value to any future programme envisioned by the Indian Navy for its modernization requirements as well as developing end-to-end solutions for electrification of India’s future warships.
Rolls-Royce is the only provider of marine gas turbines into integrated full-electric propulsion (IFEP) powered destroyers and aircraft carriers. Being a key member of the Power and Propulsion Sub-Alliance, Rolls-Royce was responsible for the design, procurement, manufacture, integration, test and delivery of the Queen Elizabeth Carrier ships’ power and propulsion system, which includes the mighty MT30 marine gas turbine and a low voltage electrical distribution system. Our MT30 is the most power dense gas turbine powering naval fleets suitable for next generation warships.
We are keen to explore opportunities to replicate this success with our Indian Navy customers. As India envisages its ‘fleet of the future’, we believe that Rolls-Royce can be a natural partner of choice to offer customized solutions for the Indian Navy’s present and future needs.
How do you see the Indian aerospace manufacturing sector evolving in the next five years, particularly in the context of innovation and sustainability?
COVID-19 temporarily slowed down India’s march to fast-paced development. However, India has not only emerged as one of the few large economies that managed quick and effective recovery, but also bounced back to its pre-COVID growth outlook. In the aerospace sector, the last few years have seen several initiatives from the government, including the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme to increase regional connectivity, plans to increase the number of airports, incentives and policy measures to boost the manufacturing and MRO services sector. All of these developments combined with the opening up of more routes, point to a sunrise sector that will present great prospects for big and small players across the value chain, as well as provide several opportunities for a skilled workforce.
With a high aircraft order backlog, strategic geographic location, rich pool of engineering expertise and competitive labour cost, India is quickly gaining prominence in the global footprint of leading OEMs in the sector. Over the next five years, India has the potential to be a critical and strategic sourcing location for all aerospace and defence manufacturers. Leading manufacturers are also tapping into the abundant engineering talent available in India for innovation. It would not be wrong to estimate that almost all aircraft manufactured today would have at least a few critical parts designed in India.
India has also demonstrated strong commitment to sustainability goals, and this trend will follow in the aerospace sector. Indian suppliers are now picking up on new initiatives to reduce carbon footprint but the sector is still in nascent stages of the journey to net zero.
In an increasingly digital-first future, we also see tremendous opportunity to drive efficiency and improve environmental performance using data analytics tools. At Rolls-Royce, we are leveraging these strengths with in-house teams as well as with our partners in India. Our data experts analyze data from millions of flights every year from almost a third of airlines’ global routes. Our analysis helps save our customers 100,000 tonnes of fuel – that’s enough fuel for a 747 to fly to the moon and back 13 times.
Tell us something about Rolls-Royce’s sustainability goals and what is the organization doing towards achieving the same.
At Rolls-Royce we are committed to the global target of net zero carbon by 2050. To this end, we are working to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of our existing products and working on disruptive innovation to accelerate the journey to net zero. For example, our all-electric plane ‘Spirit of Innovation’ recently achieved the world speed record to become the fastest all-electric plane. Our digital team at R2 Data Labs in India played a significant role in providing critical data analytics for the plane to achieve the maximum speed for its world record flight. We believe that pioneering innovative solutions like this not only mark a new and exciting era in electric aviation but also herald the future of flying sustainably.
Alternate fuels will also play an increasingly important role in accelerating the journey to net zero. We are committed to making all our engines compatible with Sustainability Aviation Fuels (SAF). We’re already testing our engines with SAF and all our Trent engines will be compatible with 100% SAF as early as 2023. We have also tied-up with other industry partners on this journey and we are happy that Airbus has committed to fly on up-to 50% blended SAF, and Shell has committed to produce 2million tonnes of SAF per year by 2025.
We are also using data and digital twins to predict how an engine will behave throughout its lifetime – this means we can conduct fewer physical tests and avoid unnecessary emissions. We also use data from our fleet of engines to help airlines use less fuel.
We believe that the demand for sustainable power will only grow in the future and we are pioneering sustainable solutions at Rolls-Royce, including all-electric and hybrid-electric transport solutions, microgrids, battery storage and alternative fuels including hydrogen.
Rolls-Royce has been operating the International Aerospace Manufacturing Ltd (IAMPL) production facility in Bangalore in partnership with HAL. How is this facility contributing to Rolls-Royce and to Indian aerospace?
International Aerospace Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd. (IAMPL) is our joint venture (JV) with HAL to manufacture complex aero-engine components for our civil aero engines. The JV manufactures more than 160 different aero-engine components used across the Trent family of products as well as for our other engines.
Over the years, we have worked closely with our supply chain partners to build capabilities and strengthen skills to enable the aerospace sourcing ecosystem here to meet global quality standards. IAMPL is now a fully accredited benchmark manufacturing facility and is a good example of how our supply chain capabilities and the ecosystem have evolved in India. It is a source of great pride for us that IAMPL is today among the top-tier suppliers in the global supply chain for Rolls-Royce.
Tell us about some of your engineering partnerships in India.
Over the years, Rolls-Royce has invested in nurturing high capability engineering talent in India, both for our Civil Aerospace engineering ecosystem as well as for our Power Systems business. Today, engineers in India collaborate with our global teams on development programmes, and also support service and repairs engineering activities for the existing Rolls-Royce engine fleet. Our team of digital engineers and data scientists at R2 Data Labs in Bengaluru support the digital transformation of our business - they are involved in creating solutions based on advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more, to enable greater efficiencies in various operations.
Over 2,000 high-skilled engineers in India work with Rolls-Royce, including in-house talent and through outsourced agreements with Infosys, TCS and others, providing high quality engineering solutions and services.
In partnership with Infosys, we have recently established a joint ‘Aerospace Engineering and Digital Innovation Centre’ in Bengaluru. This centre will provide high-end research and development (R&D) services integrated with advanced digital capabilities to Rolls-Royce’s engineering and group business services from India. We believe this presents an exciting opportunity for both companies to leverage combined strengths in engineering and digital innovation to accelerate growth in the civil aerospace market. Given the aerospace sector is poised for revival and growth in India and across the world, this joint innovation centre will strengthen Rolls-Royce’s global engineering ecosystem and position us well for the future.”