Parag Wadhawan, Managing Director & Site Lead, Collins Aerospace, in the following interview with Soumi Mitra, Editor-in-Chief, MMI talks about the company’s technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry, the crucial role it has played in shaping India as a major aerospace manufacturing hub, its roadmap to expand its presence in the civil aviation industry, and the innovations in the offing…
Our readers would want to know more about Collins Aerospace in India and your technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global Aerospace and Defense industry.
Parag Wadhawan: Collins Aerospace was established in 1997 with the inauguration of its manufacturing facility in Bangalore. Subsequently, Collins expanded its presence by opening engineering centers in Bangalore and Hyderabad. This has enabled us to support local and international governments, aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and defense contractors with full-lifecycle capability (design to manufacturing) that can help them achieve a shorter time to market, at a lower program or project life-cycle cost, with innovative solutions.
We currently have 5,500 employees across four locations in India and are planning to open a new location in Bengaluru's new Aerospace Park.
Collins Aerospace’s products and capabilities across strategic business units include aftermarket services, customer account management, engineering, technology, operations, quality and strategic development. Collins’ sites in India serve a substantial customer base including international governments, aerospace OEMs, and defense contractors. Our Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) partnership has enabled us to become one of the first Indian entities to ship a significant amount of products back to Collins in Europe and USA prior to getting shipped to our customers.
Some of the customers that we serve include Boeing, Airbus. Thales, Bombardier, Gulfstream, Sukhoi, Embraer, Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney.
Collins provides a vast array of solutions to the aerospace and defense industry. It goes beyond avionics and communication solutions to include Interior Systems, Mechanical Systems, Power & Controls, and Aerostructures for the commercial aviation space. In the defense space, we provide solutions such as large-area displays, ejection seats, and communications amongst others.
You are also known to have played a major role in shaping India as a major aerospace manufacturing hub. Please elaborate on the same.
From the time that Collins was established in India, we have been focused on introducing innovations to the market. We leverage our global expertise and Indian talent to come out with industry-first solutions to introduce greater functionality that is smarter and safer.
We have been building the Indian R&D ecosystem through the introduction of new technologies. Together the India team has produced over 235 patents that cover inventions across all Collins SBUs and disciplines. This includes the successful designing, developing, and qualifying of the power door opening system for Airbus and Bombardier C-series at the Bengaluru facility.
We have been working to expand the local supply base ecosystem as well. It started with simple parts and now we are manufacturing complex parts and testing systems that are designed and manufactured in India. We are working with the supply base to further expand the capabilities of special processing and investing in advanced manufacturing.
In India, we currently work on a comprehensive set of solutions that include:
Assembly of flight safety-critical Line Replaceable Units (LRU) for commercial aircraft Interiors
• Mechanical Systems
• Mission Systems.
Testing of flight safety-critical LRU for commercial aircraft:
• Expertise in technology transfers and product transitions
• Airworthiness certification issuing authority to ship products directly to OEM customer
• Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Organization Designation Authorization (ODA)
• FAA Designated Manufacturing Inspection Representative (DMIR)
• Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Civil Aviation
• Requirement (CAR) 21 production organization approval.
Collins Aerospace provides a vast array of solutions to the Aerospace and Defense industry.
Interior Systems, Mechanical Systems, Power & Controls, and Aerostructures for the commercial
aviation space. In the defense space, it provides solutions such as large-area displays,
ejection seats, and communications among others.
Tell us about your manufacturing facility in Bengaluru. What roles do the India Design Center in Hyderabad and the Global Engineering Center in Bengaluru play?
Our engineering centers are located in both Bangalore and Hyderabad and provide R&D that supports Avionics, Aerostructures, Power & Controls, Mechanical Systems, Mission Systems, and Interiors, while our manufacturing facility in Bangalore, which is over 6,50,000 sq ft, produces parts for Interiors, Mechanical Systems, Avionics, and Mission Systems.
Both these centers support the ‘Aathmanirbhar Bharat’ or the self-sufficient India campaign.
Collins is looking at expanding its presence in the Civil Aviation industry. How do you plan to do so?
Collins already has forayed into the Civil Aviation sector with our association with Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) and the local airlines. In 2009, DIAL turned to Collins Aerospace as they figured it is essential to implement new technologies that could offer significant benefits to its passengers. DIAL’s Terminal 1D was the first domestic terminal to implement Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE), in 2009. With this new technology (CUTE), airlines were able to use any workstation for their daily operations and not follow a set rotation schedule. This allowed the passengers for faster check-in to the aeroplane.
The implementation of Collins’ solutions helped Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), T1D handle its capacity issues, reducing processing time as well as decreasing passenger frustration and airport congestion. In addition, Collins’ commitment to training, support, and collaboration across all relevant stakeholders made the implementation of the new systems seamless. The positive results led the two organizations to extend their collaboration to IGIA Terminal 3 (T3).
We also have a focus on touchless airports and have introduced several products that facilitate safe travel. Our ARINC SelfPass™ system provides passengers’ contactless journeys through the use of a single token ID driven by secure biometrics. Check-in, immigration and security, lounge access, and boarding are some of the places where SelfPass can be used. Each step may be completed in a few seconds, and no traditional boarding and identification paperwork is required. Passengers merely go up to the camera and have their faces matched against the biometrics database, after that they can proceed.
You are among the first Indian entities to domestically produce and export an aviation product to the US. In addition, you have successfully designed, developed, and qualified the power door opening system for Airbus and Bombardier C-series at your Bengaluru facility. What other innovations are in the offing and what is your take on the government policies for the sector?
The Government of India has been focusing a lot on infrastructure development and we look forward to continued contribution to this growth. This includes areas such as the connected aviation ecosystem and the modern battlefield through collaborations and partnerships with local MSMEs.
We are also closely studying the new policies to seek out partnership opportunities to grow Collins Aerospace’s businesses in India.
The year 2020 was an unprecedented phase in the Manufacturing industry worldwide. What are the challenges that you faced in the supply chain and what were the measures resorted to for maintaining a smooth flow?
Collins Aerospace, like several companies, not just in India but across the world has been affected by the pandemic. The commercial aviation business, which makes up a large part of our business in India has been impacted the most. However, we have been committed to delivering on our projects in India and globally. In terms of the supply chain, we have added more time for transit and have been closely monitoring all shipments through various milestones on daily basis.
In addition, we have an active environment, health, and safety (EH&S) strategy to ensure that our employees are well protected during this time. We have conducted multiple vaccination drives in Hyderabad and Bengaluru for our employees and their family members to help protect our campus.
Recently, Raytheon Technologies (RTX), through its companies Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney, donated four OxyTrucks to Indian Red Cross. The trucks can help to transport oxygen to remote locations. We are doing our best to support the country in this challenging situation.
Collins has been building the Indian R&D ecosystem through the introduction of new technologies.
Together the India team has produced over 235 patents that cover inventions across all
Collins SBUs and disciplines.
This includes the successful designing, developing, and qualifying of the power door opening
system for the A320neo and Bombardier C-series at the Bengaluru facility.
Collins Aerospace’s CSR Initiative of sponsoring digital learning platform eBridgeNow to help aerospace and healthcare professionals upskill is laudable. How is that coming along?
eBridgeNow offers end-to-end lifecycle management of training online. Built on open source and cloud-first technologies, the platform enables corporates and educational institutions to seamlessly adapt to the changing needs of skill development.
Collins Aerospace sponsored the project that includes the development of a comprehensive digital platform and delivery of employment-based skilling programs in the Aerospace and the Healthcare sectors along with the creation of digital content. The project will provide scholarships to economically disadvantaged individuals to enroll in employment-based skilling programs to 50 candidates in the Aerospace and 320 candidates in the Healthcare sector.
Over the last two years, Collins Aerospace has completed 15 CSR projects related to education, skills development, rural development and environmental conservation. One such recent initiative is the St. Theresa’s Grace Hospital project. In response to the humanitarian crisis, Collins Aerospace Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team, in partnership with United Way Bengaluru (NGO), has constructed the St. Theresa’s Grace Hospital. The hospital can accommodate 22 patients with all facilities including oxygen lines. It will provide free treatment to 1,000 to 1,200 destitute annually.
Collins Aerospace has an active environment, health, and safety (EH&S) strategy to ensure that
its employees are well protected during this time. The company has conducted multiple vaccination
drives in Hyderabad and Bengaluru for its employees and their family members to help protect its campus.
We have also initiated the Integrated Rural Development (IRD) Project in Bengaluru. The project is aimed at the holistic development of communities around Collins Aerospace’s manufacturing unit in Devanahalli. Twenty villages will be supported with education, skill development, solar electrification, and watershed initiatives to positively impact 21,000 people from the locality.
Source: Collins Aerospace
Modern Manufacturing India
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