'India Is Critical To Ensure Success For Our Customers'

Srinjoy Bal
22 May 2023
10:00 AM
2 Min Read

Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India, talks about the airframe maker's growth in India and its plans to further leverage the country's inherent potential.

Salil Gupte

Salil Gupte is responsible for leading and integrating the company’s work in India across its three business units: Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Global Services, and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Salil Gupte was named Boeing India's President in 2009 and currently leads a team of 5,000 people. Before the new role Gupte was the Vice President of Boeing Capital Corporation, a wholly owned Boeing subsidiary, while his earlier roles at Boeing included supply chain execution for Boeing Global Services and leading commercial operations for Boeing’s spare parts business.

What is Boeing's message with the new global support centre in India?

The message is that the market and our customers are rapidly expanding, and as a result, we need to localise the ecosystem in India across customer support, MRO, and training. Having a larger customer support footprint in India is critical to ensuring the success of our customers. As a result, we've opened this Customer Support Centre in Gurgaon to localise support (previously carried out in the United States, Singapore, and other locations) and bring it closer to our customers.

The centre here also helps us not only support customers but also work closely with the regulators. Many technical discussions take place between US and Indian regulators, and with experts on the ground in both countries, we can easily align and coordinate those conversations.

Can you provide an update on the logistic centre for India announced earlier?

We're still working on sizing it and talking to customers about what parts they want in that centre. We hope to announce the location, size, and other details of that centre within the next few months, perhaps by June.

The Indian Government, particularly Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, wants Boeing's presence in India to grow. What are your thoughts on this?

We're already by far the largest here, which is why Goyal specifically mentions that he wants us to expand because the way to expand the overall market is for the market leader to expand, and with Boeing having the leading footprint in the market, it will show the way for everyone else.

I'm happy that Goyal has chosen Boeing as the one who should be demonstrating how it's done. Because we've done it in manufacturing for the last ten years, that's something we've done in engineering. And we intend to keep doing so.

How does Boeing feel about aircraft assembly in India?

For civil aircraft assembly, we always consider the business case. We currently only assemble civil aeroplanes in the United States at our Charleston, South Carolina, and Seattle, Washington facilities. We don't have a timeline for when civil aircraft assembly would make sense in India.

However, India already has tremendous capability, which we are expanding. We already manufacture the 737 Max vertical fin in Hyderabad, and we also manufacture a large amount of defence equipment in India with our suppliers. Then there are the inlet and outlet barrels, as well as the fan cowls for engines that are being sourced from India. In addition, structural floor beams are being sourced from India.

So there are a tremendous amount of critical parts already manufactured in India using complex materials, and we will continue to expand our supplier base here. So that is the strategy we are constantly evaluating and improving.

Apache Helicopter

While components are an important part of the story, what new manufacturing technologies are emerging from Indian suppliers?

In our joint venture in Hyderabad, there is a lot of exciting work going on. We use pulse lines and automation to drill on the 737 Max vertical fin. This is a next-generation manufacturing technology that will be used globally, not just within Boeing's own operations but also in operations with other suppliers.

So what we see in India is the ability to develop technologies and serve as a pilot programme for the entire world, and for Indian manufacturing, that's a very exciting place to be.

What kind of investment is Boeing looking for in India?

We don't have a specific number in mind, but when we look at the Indian market for capability growth, we look at what new areas of growth are emerging in India that we can encourage our supplier partners to pursue, and then we can build ourselves alongside them. After we've assessed those areas for growth, we work on contracts with our suppliers or hire ourselves if it's engineering. 

We are always driven by capability, never by a numerical target.

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