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Rolls-Royce: Eighty two years of powering Indian aviation

New Delhi. From gypsy engines to Adour Mk811 to M250-B17F/2 turboprop engines, Rolls Royce has come a long way since it started business in India eighty two years ago. “With over 500 employees in India and about 1,000 engineers through an outsource agreement with QUEST and TCS in Bangalore, at Rolls-Royce, we remain as committed to India with/ without the increase in FDI and work towards the indigenisation of the Indian defence industry by exploring strong partnerships who share similar synergies with us,” said Kishore Jayaraman (KJ), President, Rolls-Royce India & South Asia, in an exclusive interview with India Strategic (IS).

(IS). How have the eight decades of Rolls Royce in India been?

(KJ). Rolls-Royce association with India of over 80 years is marked with significant achievements. We started our association with the Indian aerospace sector in 1932 with our Gypsy engines on the first Tata Aviation aircraft. Then in 1933, Indian Air Force took to the skies powered by Rolls-Royce Bristol Jupiter engines. Over the years, we have played a vital role in the development and transformation of India’s indigenous aerospace industry.

Today, the Jaguar fleet is powered by Rolls–Royce’s Adour Mk811 engines while Adour Mk871 engines power the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer which trains India’s future pilots. Our relationship with Indian Defence forces further strengthened with Indian Air Force selecting C-130J for its fleet.

Our relationship with HAL is one of the longest in the industry and we hope that it will continue to grow from strength to strength. In 2013, International Aerospace Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd (IAMPL), a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and HAL, became operational. We have now successfully started production and will reach full capacity in 2014.

(IS) Of the four segments Rolls Royce works in, which is doing the best in India?

Rolls Royce Eighty two years of powering Indian aviation-1(KJ). Globally, Rolls-Royce’s vision is to create better power for a changing world via two main business segments, Aerospace and Marine & Industrial Power Systems (MIPS). These businesses address their markets with two strong technology platforms, gas turbines and reciprocating engines, for use on land, at sea and in the air. Aerospace comprises Civil Aerospace and Defence Aerospace. MIPS comprises Marine, Energy, Nuclear and Power Systems.

India and South Asia is one of the few regions where Rolls-Royce can boast of a presence in all the sectors. Our presence in all the sectors demonstrates the confidence our customers place in us. India offers a vast potential and all the segments are equal priority sectors in India.

At the core of our programmes is technology. Over the past 10 years, Rolls-Royce has invested £7.9 billion in research and development. In 2013 alone, we invested £1.118 billion in R&D. Investment in Research and Technology has grown in the past decade, with two-thirds aimed at improving the environmental performance of our products. We are also investing in renewable and low-carbon technologies, including nuclear energy. The Group has a growing portfolio of products and an increasingly comprehensive range of services for our customers which will directly benefit our customers in India, across all our sectors.

(IS). What is the status of the construction of a new manufacturing facility in Bangalore with HAL?

(KJ). The International Aerospace Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd (IAMPL) became operational in 2013. We have now successfully started production and will reach full capacity in 2014. Built with an investment of $25 million, this facility is spread across 7, 200 sq m in Bangalore. IAMPL manufactures compressor shrouds and cones for Rolls-Royce gas turbines both for new production and the aftermarket. Currently IAMPL ships more than 130 different engine compressor parts to Rolls-Royce aero engines facilities.

(IS). Last year, Rolls-Royce launched its India Open Innovation programme (IOiN-RR) which will help the company to buy or licence new and potentially beneficial technologies from Indian SMEs. Where does this programme stand today?

(KJ). Rolls-Royce is committed to innovation. We continually innovate to remain competitive and most importantly, we ensure that innovation is relevant to our customer’s needs. We believe that India is home to some of the most innovative small and medium sized companies. Being a key entrepreneurial nation, the Open Innovation Programme, was launched in India last year in July. Being the pilot programme, we received a tremendous response from thousands of companies in India. We received some game changing ideas from Indian companies for the challenges shared by us. The winning solution will get the opportunity of integrating into Rolls-Royce global operations through a collaborative relationship with the company.

(IS). Rolls Royce has been optimistic of the Indian co-operation in the civil nuclear field. Could you comment on your participation in this futuristic business?

(KJ). Globally, Rolls-Royce has over 50 years of experience in the nuclear industry. In Civil Nuclear, we provide products and services, spanning the nuclear reactor life-cycle from concept design and installation to obsolescence management and plant life extension. We have a strong position in nuclear instrumentation and control systems.

India has made an optimistic plan to install 63 GW of nuclear power by the year 2032. The plan is based on setting up a number of imported light water reactors and indigenously developed pressurised heavy water reactors. Rolls-Royce intends to participate in Indian civil nuclear programme in the areas of safety instrumentation & control, emergency diesel sets and in- service inspection & maintenance of critical nuclear equipment for both light water reactors and pressurised heavy water reactors.

(IS). Is the Bangalore plant anywhere close to creating an engine by itself?

(KJ). The journey has begun and the destination is dependent on future growth and market potential.

(IS). Now that IAF has chosen the Trent 700 engine for A330 MRTT, when do you become busy in it?

(KJ). The engine selection for A330 MRTT is not confirmed yet, as Rolls-Royce is awaiting a decision from its customers.

(IS). When will Rolls-Royce begin licensed production of components for the AE 2100D3 military turboprop in India and where?

(KJ). Rolls-Royce is looking to expand its engine component manufacturing activities in India, and looking at adding new product lines at its International Aerospace Manufacturing Pvt Ltd (IAMPL) in Bangalore which already makes parts for the Trent 700 turbofan. However, the timeline and place for the licensed production of components for the AE 2100D3 military turboprop has not been decided yet.

(IS). Has the supply of the M250-B17F/2 turboprop engines for the 10-passenger GA10 aircraft being developed by GippsAero begun?

(KJ). In July 2011, Rolls-Royce signed development agreement with GippsAero, to supply M250-B17F/2 turboprop engines for the GA-10, a new 10-passenger fixed-wing plane that delivers enhanced performance, fuel efficiency and reliability. That segment (light utility aircraft) boomed in 2010 but now has been slow. We expect it will start picking up speed in 2015 to 2016. Rolls-Royce’s M250-B17 turboprop engine series represents the latest refinement of a rugged and highly reliable small turboprop engine.

(IS). Rolls-Royce had expressed interest in a proposed project by HAL and India’s National Aeronautics Ltd to develop a new regional airliner. Is there a development on this front?

(KJ). At this point, it is too early to talk about RTA (Regional Transport Aircraft). As and when such opportunities do arise Rolls-Royce will be prepared as we have the relevant technologies and products to support the growth of the Indian aviation market. Globally, our civil aerospace segment is a major manufacturer of aero engines for the airliner and corporate jet markets. Rolls-Royce engines power more than 30 types of commercial aircraft and has almost 13,000 engines in service around the world.

(IS). Do you think the move to allow 49 per cent FDI in defence will improve your commitment to India?

(KJ). With higher FDI limit, there will be opportunities to further contribute in the development and modernisation of India’s defence sector by offering world-class innovative products and services. This boost of FDI in the sector is marked as an example of the new government’s commitment to implement important reforms at a quicker pace.

© India Strategic