Indian Aviation (IA): Could you tell us more about your MRO facilities in terms of size, capabilities and capacities?
MM Varman (MMV): Varman Aviation as MRO is approved by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA); European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal; Civil Aviation Authority of Philippines; and Director General of Civil Aviation of Indonesia. Our facility is approved for repair/overhauling of piston engines up to 300 HP, Pratt & Whitney PT6A series engine up to -42, being extended to -67D. We have annual capacity to overhaul 100 piston engines and 60 Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines on single shift basis.
Located at the Export Promotional Industrial Park, Whitefield, Bangalore, the facility is spread over an acre of land with a built-up area, measuring 45,000 sq ft. The Pratt & Whitney engine overhauling facility is equipped with all necessary Test Rigs, Schenck Dynamic Balancing Machine, Revitting and De-revitting Machines, Chemical and Mechanical Cleaning Facility, NDT, Dust proof fully airconditioned Assembly Shop and fully computerized Test Cell equipped with ACES Vibration Analyzer, Allen Bradley Data Acquisition System.
We are MRO for engines namely Textron Lycoming, Teledyne Continental and Rotax piston engines and Pratt & Whitney PT6A series turboprop engines. Plans are afoot for undertaking the overhaul of turboshaft engines as well.
IA: You are among the very few Indian companies to have EASA certification. Could you share what has helped you to win the certification?
MMV: Varman Aviation is second MRO in India to have obtained EASA certification. The first MRO was Air India. In fact, EASA certification was obtained during the year 2008-09 after having setup a world class overhauling facility for Pratt & Whitney, PT6A series engine in India.
This facility had been established under the direct control and supervision of my colleague AVB Reddy, also from HAL, who had been responsible for setting up of Adour engine as well as Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) facility in HAL.
Mr. Govindan has been the architect for Test Bed Facility. Turboprop, Pratt & Whitney MRO Test Cell Facility has been correlated and accepted by Pratt & Whitney of Canada who also appreciated the setup which is fully computerized. The EASA certification was issued after the first audit by EASA Inspector, who was very happy to see the state-of-the-art set up. The certification was instrumental in our achievement in getting first international contract for overhauling of two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42 engines from Philippines.
IA: How do you assess the growth potential of the MRO industry in India?
MMV: MRO industry in India has just started. In the case of air frame, only Air Works and Indamar are the two MROs in India. GMR is yet to start. However, as far as aircraft engine is concerned, except Air India and Varman Aviation, besides HAL, there is none.
MRO Industry in India has tremendous opportunities as the aviation sector has grown at a pace of around 18 percent during last few years. The Government has planned to develop and make operational of 200 small civil airports so that these are available for feeder services. As of today, India has around 450 commercial aircraft in operation, but these are expected to grow up to 1,000 aircraft in next five years.
The Government has also relaxed import of ATF by airlines. This move will reduce cost. Presently, airlines are sending their aircraft abroad for major overhaul including the “C” checks. But with the setup of new MRO facilities for larger aircraft by organizations like GMR and Air Works, airlines could expect a substantial saving in cost besides foreign exchange.
As far as manpower and technology is concerned, India has enough knowhow and technical manpower to support the growth of MRO industry. However, tax structure in India needs to be revised to allow domestic companies to compete with global players.
IA: How do you address the technology and manpower issues within your organization?
MMV: We have well-trained highly experienced technicians and engineers to meet the requirement of production. Our senior management are also highly professional and technically experienced. They have worked with an international company like HAL, who impart the technical knowledge and train their engineers for the required skill levels. We have online OEM support with the latest technical updates for the maintenance data.
IA: What are the policy reforms you would advocate to fuel MRO growth in India?
MMV: In view of the fast growing aviation industry in India, an MRO Association has been formed for the first time to raise various issues concerning taxation, customs duties with the Government. MOCA has also acknowledged the problems faced by the MRO industry and we understand that the matter has been taken-up with the concerned Ministry for remedial measures. MRO industry needs to provide support to the airlines as well as chartering houses besides the corporate clients. In fact, self dependence of India in aviation with growth of MROs will cut down the cost by not less than 20-25 percent, besides value addition to the extent of 35-40 percent. This will result into substantial savings for Government in foreign exchange.
MRO industry can look for export of its capabilities and services to the neighbouring countries. Varman Aviation has been able to achieve overseas contracts from countries like Philippines, Africa, Nepal, Myanmar, including USA. We are making every effort to extend our export sales substantially.
IA: What’s the target of your company in terms of sales, kinds of aircraft and engines you want to cater? Where do you see Varman Aviation by 2020?
MMV: As per the plan, we have set a target of reaching over Rs 100 crore worth of sales in next five years. We want to take this up to Rs 150 crore by 2020. The company is expected to increase overhauling of piston as well as turbo prop engine besides turbo shaft engines for which discussions are on with the OEMs for JVs/equity participation. We envisage giving thrust on major repair of parts and specialized coating.
IA: You had recently struck a deal with Rotax Engine. Could you share more details on this?
MMV: We are the distributors and after sales services representative for Rotax Engine manufactured by BRP Powertrain GmbH & Co KG, Austria. Perhaps you may be aware that all over the world Rotax Engine are installed on over 80 percent of Micro Light Aircraft, which are used for hobby flying as well as basic training. In India, the largest operators of Micro Light Aircraft powered by Rotax Engine are NCC and IAF. We also provide line maintenance training to the technical staff of our clients in India, Nepal, Srilanka and Bangladesh, towards first and second line maintenance.