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On Friday, Boeing announced in Delhi that it had agreed with GMR  Aero Technic (GAT) to establish a new Boeing Converted Freighter line in the eastern Indian city of Hyderabad.

Incidentally, GMR Aero Technic is the first Boeing supplier in India that will have the capability to support future conversions of both domestic and foreign aircraft.

GMR Aero Technic (GAT) is a leading airframe Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul facility based at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad, India, with DGCA-India and other international approvals such as EASA, FAA-US, PACA-Oman, and CAA-Vietnam. GAT provides complete maintenance support to airline operators and ensures customers meet their operational timelines. GAT has performed over 650 hours of C checks on aircraft and has over 3 million hours of aircraft service to its credit.

The Boeing GAT announcement comes less than a month after Air India signed the world’s largest aircraft order for 470 aircraft, including 220 Boeing aircraft estimated at $ 34 billion. The orders are for 190 B737 MAX, 20 B787, and 10 B777X. There is an option to buy 70 more aircraft, which could take the total value of the Boeing deal alone to $ 45.9 billion.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Salil Gupte, president of Boeing India, said that the cooperation between Boeing and GAT is not only a testimony of the maturation of Indian Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul capabilities within the country to support the vision of a self-sufficient India, but also to support the anticipated growth of the cargo sector in the region.

Ashok Gopinath, CEO of GAT, added that the collaboration with Boeing builds its capability to provide world-class MRO services. Further, it contributes to the “Make in India” initiative, adding that the company is looking forward to working together on future initiatives.

Currently, the US aircraft manufacturer has more than 300 suppliers in India and makes sourcing worth over Rs 8,3000 million annually.  According to Gupte, over 1,720 freighter conversions are required globally and a significant chunk of those will be in Asia adding that Boeing believes that India will play a big role in that as well.

 While emphasising that the time for the cargo market has come, he said, “so, it is only fair that we have a capability to have a line to make those freighters in India, not just for India but for the region.”

Boeing has more than 40 years of successful experience in passenger-to-freighter conversions, relying on original design data and a deep understanding of the needs of the air cargo industry to deliver a superior, integrated product.

According to Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook, India’s air cargo growth is expected to average 6.3 per cent annually, driven by the country’s manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, including its Make in India initiative. Boeing forecasts demand for more than 75 freighters, including production and converted freighters.

At the Dubai Air show in November 2021, Boeing said in a media statement that as global demand for freighters continues to soar, Boeing had plans to add three conversion lines for the market-leading 737-800BCF across North America and Europe. At the air show, the company also signed a firm order with Icelease for 11 of the freighters as the launch customer for one of the new conversion lines.

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Former Senior Deputy Editor at Business Line (aka The Hindu Business Line)

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