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Dr. RMVGK Rao, FNAE, Scientist"G", and Head FRP Division, National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR)-(Retd.), "Government Programs to Develop Aircraft and Defense Systems will Greatly Boost Composites Consumption in India"

Dr. RMVGK Rao, FNAE, Scientist"G", and Head FRP Division, National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR)-(Retd.) served for well over three decades in the Indian Aerospace Industry. Dr. Rao is widely recognized for his knowledge of composite applications in aerospace industry. Dr. RMVGK Rao shares his experience with Editor, Lucintel, K. Venkateshwar. Rao. Excerpts:

1. What are the key Drivers and key challenges in Indian Aerospace Industry?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: Composite materials are used in aerospace applications because of their exceptional strength, stiffness-to-density ratios and superior physical properties. Convincing the customer that "composites are attractive superior alternative materials" in terms of initial and life cycle costs is the foremost challenge. Making visible the inherent processing /fabrication merits of these "new age materials", through customized demonstration workshops is the next step. The non-recyclability of current composites will become an issue sooner or later, considering the global environmental concerns.

2. Impact of Government Policies on Aerospace Industries?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: They are very supportive. The multilevel taxation on materials, right from their synthesis to product conversion stage needs to be resolved amicably, but current scenario looks bright for "venturous-entrepreneurs". The PPP and free market economy would help the industry in gaining access to latest technologies.

3: Steps required for making India an Exporting-Hub?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: n the Aerospace/Defence sectors with a humble composite market share of 6-8 %, several innovative and cost effective products to stringent user standards have been developed. Public sector born "material technologies" and "novel fabrication methodologies" have already inspired the private sector. Thus, the potential to develop composite products to global markets exists in India, and what needs now is only a firm resolve to create the hub.

4: Key challenges faced by Composite Users in India.

Dr. RMVGK Rao: A closer interaction is needed among all in understanding and using the composites to replace the traditional materials. It should result from the concerted efforts of both the material manufacturers/suppliers at one end and the processors/fabricators at the other with the "end- user" enlightened enough on the developmental cycle and taken into confidence.

5: Government support and policy changes needed to encourage export of composites?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: A more aggressive domestic supporting policy should be in place to encourage export of composite products through better internal tax structure, export incentive schemes, subsidized international participation costs for the private industry to showcase and promote their products in the international forum, rewards for export promotion, and funding of R & D programs exclusively in the private sector domain, in turn private sector pumps a part of the R & D funding it receives back into National Institutes/Universities to promote need based/time- bound, and highly- accountable R & D activity in the public sector.

6: Steps required for competing with more developed industries in the west?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: Proper funding to an agency that can "deliver what it promises" through its commitment and accountability, close monitoring of the work schedules by a competent committee, participation of the user and the certification agencies right from the project conceptual stage - all will prove to be beneficial to compete in an industrially developed working environment.

7: Has Global slow down affected the (Indian Aerospace) market? And how do you foresee growth forward?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: Global slow down has not really affected Indian Aerospace Market, as we are yet to reach that kind of consumption levels. It is like a huge deluge causing little or no damage to small plants or grass blades, while uprooting tall and big trees. To assess the growth forward, the critical factor deciding our consumption levels is how fast the Aviation Industry grows and how soon we realize the objectives of our current, concurrent and perspective R & D programs in this area.

8: Do you see high potential for composites in the Indian Market? What are some of reasons for the same?

Dr. RMVGK Rao: Government is initiating large number of programs to develop aircraft, aircraft carriers, ships, Defence systems, Space systems where the consumption of composites are very high.

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