Boeing to expand commercial and defence investments in India

US plane maker 'working very closely' with Indian companies on new products

Air India is trying to lure passengers with direct services to the US and Europe. AFP
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US aerospace major Boeing is planning further investments in India in the commercial and defence sectors, as the government in New Delhi undertakes economic reforms to attract foreign investors and boost its industrial sector.

“India is an exciting country, it's an emerging superpower, it reminds you in some ways of late 19th-century America, it's a vast market, and now with the reforms that Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi has undertaken, it enables companies like us to increase their investments,” Brendan Nelson, vice president of Boeing and president of Boeing Global, said on Sunday.

“We're also building a supply and distribution centre for components and parts. We're working very closely at the moment … with some pre-eminent Indian companies on some defence products and also some commercial products.

“So, certainly we intend to invest a lot more in India to support the country and its aviation sector,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Boeing currently employs 5,500 people in India, with a “very large engineering population”, and has a joint venture with Indian conglomerate Tata Group.

The Hyderabad factory has been producing parts for Boeing’s AH-64 Apache helicopter, including fuselages, secondary structures and vertical spar boxes for customers worldwide.

Boeing has added a new production line to manufacture complex vertical fin structures for the 737 family of planes, according to its website.

The company also plans to open a $200 million engineering centre in Bangalore early next year, Mr Nelson said.

The planned investments come as Indian airlines place record orders for planes with Boeing and Airbus.

Air India, which is now owned by the Tata Group, is trying to lure passengers with direct services to the US and Europe, traffic that typically transits through hubs in the Gulf.

Watch: Fighter jets and Boeing 777X take to the skies at Dubai Airshow 2021

Fighter jets and Boeing 777X take to the skies at Dubai Airshow

Fighter jets and Boeing 777X take to the skies at Dubai Airshow

Supply chain delays

Mr Nelson said supply chain bottlenecks are expected to continue in 2024, even as demand for commercial jets soars.

However, the company “will not chase [production] rate at the expense of quality or safety”.

“And we also need to make sure that our suppliers – as you know, supply chains are constrained and will continue to be so through next year – are not under undue duress in order for us to grow rate,” he said.

Boeing expects to deliver 3,025 new commercial jets to the Middle East by 2042, including 1,350 wide-bodies.

This means wide-body planes will comprise 45 per cent of deliveries to Middle East airlines over the next 20 years ─ the highest percentage of the 10 global regions.

The Middle East's single-aisle fleet is also expected to more than double as low-cost airlines and short-haul networks continue to develop and expand. By 2042, nearly half of the region’s aircraft will be single-aisle jets.

Updated: November 12, 2023, 3:51 PM