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We don’t see offset as a burden but an opportunity but it has to be an equal opportunity
Vice President, government aviation at Pilatus Aircraft Ltd Jim Roche

Jim Roche What are the service and support arrangements for the PC-7 Mk II that will be delivered?
Aircraft nos 61 to75 (last 15) will be delivered to Air Force Station Tambaram. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will establish the facilities for the aircraft there. Spares, ground support equipment and all the material will be readied in Tambaram about March/ April. The first aircraft will arrive in Tambaram around June this year.

The IAF will use the PC-7 Mk II at Tambaram to train Qualified Flight Instructors (QFI). We don’t see any delays in meeting what the IAF has planned in induction of these 15 aircraft, the establishment of the logistics supply chain management systems or technical support. At the moment we have three people operating at Dundigal: a technical representative who is a qualified engineer and two field service engineers handling mechanical and electrical avionics systems respectively. They ensure that the IAF has instantaneous support for any requirements. We also have an e-portal called My Pilatus. The supply chain is now established and we will hire at our cost a logistics supply manager and position him at Dundigal to enhance the supply chain movement, so that the current team can focus on Tambaram.

What will be your next step in the India market?
We see India as a very attractive market but our focus is on the long term and not the short term. On the government side our focus at the moment is ensuring that the requirements of the BTA from the IAF are met.

We want to execute our existing contract on time and to the full satisfaction of the air force. The required numbers of PC-7 Mk II are to be finally decided by the ministry of defence (MoD) and the IAF and that can be concluded in a reasonably short period of time so that we can continue to meet the guidelines the government had laid down. As indicated by the Request for Information (RFI) - no RFP was issued - issued in 2014, the direction is very much ‘Buy and Make’ India. We hope that over the next few months, through the decision process, there would be a final clear guidance as to what particular road the IAF is following to finalise the BTA story.

The PC-7 Mk II is mandated as the product that the IAF wants, so the question now is “how do we all achieve that goal?”, so for the moment we are in standby mode. We are waiting to see if the MoD wants to execute the option which expires in May or if they are going to let the option expire and go through a different procurement strategy.

The first contract that was signed, and which is still in force, had a very clear requirement for the ability to have a second batch for up to 50 per cent of the aircraft as a total and ‘Buy Global’, and this is what we were focussing on.

Who are the offset partners? Please share details.
Our offset partners are Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). The progress with BEL has been excellent and we have achieved all our milestones and are now in full production of wiring looms. These are being manufactured by BEL for Pilatus for a multitude of products. We are now looking at the future as to where we can extend the range of products that have been manufactured by BEL. We expect this to be a long-term association as BEL is now embedded as part of our extended supply chain. With HAL, the progress has been considerably slower and we are still in discussions with them.

We don’t see offset as a burden but an opportunity but it has to be an equal opportunity. In other words, it has to be a win-win situation for both parties (us and the government). I have seen so many offset programmes which are set up around the world focussed on the contract duration and once the contract is over, everything disappears and the long-term benefit isn’t there. Our attitude is different. When we are looking for partners we want to look for partners who will be with us for the next 20-30 years, not just partners to fulfil a specific obligation and for a specific duration.

We have a long relationship with TCS Bangalore where we will expand the range and scale of the work we position with TCS in the future. We don’t have a multitude of suppliers producing the same components for us and BEL now is fairly unique in producing harnesses, so we rely on BEL to meet our needs.

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