Category Archives: Aerospace

He is at ease designing musical instruments and missile launchers

A musician credited with inventing the electronic tambura and electronic tabla, G. Raj Narayan may seem to be an odd man out at a seminar on military hardware and electronic warfare.

But Raj, as he is popularly called, is not only at ease with both the fields but is among the lead panellist, given his foray into defence and aerospace, involving manufacture of military-grade weapons for the Indian defence establishment.

A former design engineer at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in Bengaluru, Mr. Raj Narayan, who has a master’s degree in electronics from IIT Madras, has a passion for Carnatic music and was a regular on AIR and Doordarshan till 10 years ago before he decided to strike it out as an entrepreneur in aerospace and defence equipment manufacturing.

Given his background in HAL and experience of working on platforms ranging from Gnat to MIG and Jaguar, Mr. Raj Narayan floated Radel Group, a precision engineering group in Bengaluru, which now develops components for the fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

May seem hi-tech for the uninitiated but not for Mr. Raj Narayan who said the design and circuitry involved in making a digital musical instrument or military equipment were the same. Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress, Mr. Raj Narayan said, “My exposure to electronics and miniaturisation as a designer in HAL enabled me to design circuits for musical instruments”.

Mr. Raj Narayan, who was part of the team that built India’s first indigenous cockpit simulator, also invented the electronic tabla and electronic veena, and mass produced them for the music industry. The music unit grew and supported his venture back into aerospace in 2005; the two companies are located in the same building in Bengaluru, and what is more, they have the same employees.

Today a design engineer may be working on a musical instrument, tomorrow he may work on ammunition firing equipment of an aircraft. “That is the beauty of the whole exercise as the process of electronic design and packaging is the same but the only difference is that defence products have to be conceived and designed at a higher level than for a consumer product,” said Mr. Raj Narayan.

The musician, who received the Karnataka Kalashree award in 2001, recently innovated a missile launcher for the Jaguar based on the latest micro-controller technology to replace obsolete circuits and it has been cleared for induction by the IAF.

The original article appeared on The Hindu.

RadelMain

Radel Readying To Tie-Up with Foreign Defense, Aerospace Firms By March 2016

It was literally in disgust that G. Raj Narayan, founder and managing director of Radel Group, quit his job as an avionics engineer in the public sector to become an entrepreneur in electronics. That was way back in 1979. Three-and-a-half decades later, in 2015, Raj Narayan’s company is now a very important supplier of test jigs and aerospace parts to Bengaluru-headquartered Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that he had left after 10 years of work to pursue his passion.

Today, his Radel Group makes key parts and sub-systems for Indian armed forces’ Russian-origin Su-30 and MiG-29 combat planes, AN-32 cargo planes and the indigenous Dhruv advanced light helicopters. After 36 years as an electronics company and 10 years after venturing into aerospace and defense sectors, Radel is now preparing to tie-up with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by the end of this financial year in March 2016 to take its business to the global market.

“Radel is not associated at the moment with any foreign OEMs, but is keenly looking for a partnership with a few. It is hopeful of closing a couple of deals during the current financial year,” Raj Narayan told Arming India in a recent interview. He, however, refused to name the foreign companies that Radel Group is talking to for a tie-up.

Radel group consists of two independent companies. Radel Electronics is the older organization and has been in the consumer electronics products that are designed, manufactured and sold by it. Radel Advanced Technology, established in 2005, focuses on the micro, small and medium enterprises opportunities in the aerospace and defense sectors. Radel Advanced Technology is approved by India’s military certification agency, CEMILAC, as a design organization and has executed over 20 projects for HAL, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, completely designed and manufactured in-house. These include airborne as well as ground test equipment.

“A strong background in aerospace and avionics is what led to an entrepreneurial stride that combined my professional capabilities as a classical musician and an avionics engineer. The return to the Aerospace and Defense sector was made possible in 2005 when the government opened up these sectors to private sector participation.

“Since electronics lies at the core of almost every system on any military platform, and almost all of them are currently procured from abroad, there is more prospect in this area than a few creative and innovative MSMEs can actually handle. The business potential runs beyond a few thousand crores, though this needs to be tackled in a holistic and planned manner by the government and the armed services. This is where a Vision Group is crucial to creating a long-term plan of action that can ensure a win-win situation for all stakeholders,” Raj Narayan said.

Targeting 60% Growth over the Next 3 Years

Radel Advanced Technology is now aiming to ramp up its operations into the global Aerospace and Defense sector, targeting an annual growth rate of over 60 per cent for the next three years.

“The aerospace and defense industry is characterized by long gestation periods. Radel has successfully crossed this crucial milestone and is now on a high growth path. This position is further reinforced with the emphasis being placed on ‘Make in India’ and ‘Defense Indigenization’ directives of the Indian government. With a strong and proven in-house design capability, the organization is very confident of meeting the growth targets as long as the government remains focused on encouraging indigenous talent and capabilities.

“Opportunities exist in all three armed services as well as Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), but the latter need to look at Indian MSMEs as high value addition partners rather than just ‘sub-contractors’ of low value added services,” he said.

According to Raj Narayan, the Indian aerospace industry is predicted to be poised for a quantum growth over the next 10 years. “In the civil aviation sector alone, a total of around 1,300 aircraft are expected to be inducted, while in the military sector, around 400 aircraft are expected to be inducted. In addition, the current ageing fleet of the Air Force and Navy are expected to be either upgraded or fitted with indigenized equipment. All these activities are bound to result in a rapid growth of the Aerospace and Defense sector.”

Electronics content, Raj Narayan noted, constitute a significant proportion of the cost of any platform or equipment housed within a military platform. Defense electronics, being a much specialized domain with unique and stringent requirements, poses its own challenges while providing huge business opportunities.

“One of the major handicaps is the lack of a component manufacturing base, with the result that Indian equipment manufacturers have to import almost all the components. This, therefore, results in additional costs of Customs duties along with associated handling expenditure and delays. The second handicap results from the fact that the armed services themselves do not have complete technical details and knowledge of the equipment that they wish to indigenize and therefore the procurement process does not lead to a successful result,” he said.

“The solution to the above problems lies in a holistic approach to be adopted by the Defense Procurement Agencies that synergies the strengths of all stakeholders, namely, Armed Services, DPSU (who possess some of the domain expertise), large private players, who have the financial clout to invest in Research and Development, and the MSMEs, who provide the best value for money with their lean organization and innovative minds.”

Economic Reforms Can Help Overcome Sector’s Multiple Challenges

The aerospace and defense sector, he said, faced multiple challenges. “First and foremost, the Indian government needs to facilitate the creation of a healthy ecosystem for the growth of this industry through the provision of incentives as well as improvement of infrastructure. Secondly, skilled technicians and engineers are not available for this specialized sector. While engineering colleges across the country churn out graduates in thousands every year, few possess any practical exposure or experience to make them industry-ready. Hence, both the central and state governments should act as facilitators for establishment of Skill Training schools within public and private industries already operating in the sector.

“Thirdly, labour reforms that constitute a major stumbling block for sustained growth of any manufacturing organization in India, need to be implemented urgently. Fourthly, the productivity and efficiency of the government departments that are involved in import and export of goods and raw material, should be improved far above the pathetic levels existing at present. Free movement of goods from one state to another within the country, through simplified VAT (GST) is also urgently required.”

Raj Narayan felt that the present Defense Procurement Procedures (DPP) failed to recognize and encourage private sector players, especially MSMEs with proven track record and talent. “There is no weightage for quality and competence of a vendor. Therefore, the process mostly fails to enable the armed services to move towards self-reliance that they have been fondly wishing for over six decades. While the DPP has some clarifications on the process of indigenization, many of the procurement agencies are unaware of the same and hence the process is poorly implemented leading to failures and shortages.”

Within the company, the acute shortage of skilled talent in the sector was overcome by a well laid out training program for new as well as existing manpower. The trainees are exposed to the critical and stringent needs of the aerospace and defense sector through live experiences on projects, Raj Narayan, who also is the chief mentor of a training school called Drona, said.

Make-in-India Should Go Beyond Rhetoric

The Radel Group chief noted that the ‘Make in India’ remained at most a “rhetoric” than any concrete progress on the ground. “However, the slogan by itself has energized not only industries, but also DPSUs and the defense procurement agencies. A distinct push for sourcing defense equipment from Indian sources is clearly evident. However, it remains to be seen how far this will result in actual growth in the manufacture of indigenous defense equipment,” he said.

“Make-in-India needs to go far beyond just manufacturing under license from a foreign OEM. Indian companies need to be incentivized and encouraged to design and develop our own products using our own technologies and this capability will then lead to self-reliance through continuous up-gradation of technology that is also developed indigenously.”

Raj Narayan was on the opinion that no foreign company would ever part with any technology or products or processes, especially relating to military and aerospace industry. “The only route to self-reliance is through hard work and indigenous R&D. From this point of view, modification or changes to the Offsets Rules and Guidelines will only have short-term gains, if any, in terms of creating low value, low technology work being outsourced by the foreign companies.”

While this could be significant for MSMEs with no design and development capabilities or domain expertise, MSMEs with proven track record and competence need to be nurtured and supported by the government as well as the armed services, financially as well as morally, he said.

“Even a small part of the R&D funds provided to Defense Research and Development Organization could yield relatively higher returns and long term gains to the stakeholders. Notwithstanding the above, it is heartening to see that many hurdles to the implementation and expansion of the Offsets program have recently been removed. It now remains to be seen how well the foreign companies respond to the amendments and actually execute their Offsets liabilities. This would be a test of their sincerity.”

The original article appeared on ArmingIndia.

 

LCA-Tejas-15

Another Chairman of HAL talks

HAL seems to have finally realized that it needs to be a final integrator after all! Or has it?LCA

(http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/hal-seeks-to-lighten-light-combat-aircraft-burden/article7617119.ece) It now wants to offload major parts of the airframe to the large private players. We can now see the ‘biggies’ trooping to HAL to have a bite of the various platforms that HAL has been struggling to deliver to its reluctant customers.

How sincere is HAL when it makes such statements? I say this because this same intent has been repeated over the years ad nauseum without any action on the ground:

2002: www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2002/06/13/…/2002061301830400.htm

2003: www.thehindubusinessline.com/2003/02/12/…/2003021201020200.htm

2005 August: www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-logistics/outsourcing-bonanza-in-aviation-hal-alone-sets-rs-600crore-business-for-private-sector/article2185343.ece

2005 October: www.thehindubusinessline.com/…/haloutsourcing/article2193883.ece

If anybody thinks that this would make an impact on the Indian military aerospace sector, they are going to be sadly disappointed once again. All that this would achieve is to allow the large private players to put in place a certified system of producing airworthy structures, besides churning out riveted airframes and that too out of jigs and fixtures to be transferred to them by HAL. What nobody seems to notice is that a large part of a flying platform comprises its accessories and systems, including the most important power plant (engine), that really determines the flying as well as fighting capability of that aircraft. Onboard systems constitute about 25% of the acquisition cost of a military aircraft and along with the power plant, they account for 50% of the total cost. These also need maintenance and upgrades over the long operating lifecycle of at least 35 years. Considering that such systems can be tailored and modified to suit multiple aircraft, this constitutes the core of the aerospace industry. So, isn’t it silly that we are still talking only of manufacturing the shell and nothing about indigenous development and manufacture of all airborne systems such as avionics, electrical, hydraulics, pneumatics, air-conditioning and pressurization, cockpit instruments, weapons control, etc?

The Lucknow division of HAL was established out of the need for self-reliance in the development of accessories and systems. It has miserably failed to meet its mandate and hence this is where a multi-billion dollar opportunity exists for a large number of MSMEs alone. They can do wonders if pool their knowledge base, collaborate and synergize with each other and HAL can benefit by this too. This could lead to the creation of multiple consortia across the country each of which could be a potential exporter over time.

It is interesting that the CMD, HAL has talked of hand-holding. Let us look at their past track record. Five years ago, two divisions of HAL (Nasik and Lucknow) cancelled their outsourced manufacturing orders to a small private company stating that the labour unions had objected to outsourcing of work to the private sector. This was after going through a whole process of tendering, L1, price negotiation, and release of formal Purchase Orders. Is the CMD of HAL now sure that this will not happen again? Or, would the divisions now go to the unions to plead with them?

Talking of the 2600 SMEs that are supposed to be supplying parts to HAL, has anybody wondered what quantum of business each of these SMEs derive from HAL? If they are only manufacturing bolts and nuts, they could certainly graduate to aggregators by putting them together into a bracket or sub-assembly. That’s not what the SMEs would like to aim at. This precisely has been the problem with HAL. They never seem to be able to recognize the huge potential that lies untapped among the many competent and highly capable MSMEs of this country. Had HAL encouraged and facilitated the formation of clusters of MSMEs two decades ago, these would by now have graduated to system integrators, with each cluster delivering a communication or navigation or hydraulic system.

Why has HAL done nothing to support and encourage the existing MSMEs, many of whom are CEMILAC certified, who have already demonstrated their capabilities by manufacturing complete airborne equipment? Why does HAL not realise that creating such an ecosystem would be a force multiplier?

aerospace skilling

This is the level of our engineering graduates

How imperative is it to skill our engineers? When does skilling really start? At the post-graduate level? Graduate? School?

Let me narrate a recent incident to you, and then you can draw your own conclusions.

This is how an engineering graduate with a further six months training in embedded systems, attempted to solve a simple exercise that I had given her:

The task was to calculate digital samples for generating a sinewave. I casually suggested that she could use Excel, if she wanted. She looked quite puzzled and asked ‘How can Excel calculate the samples’? I said, ‘Can’t you give a formula’? She asked, ‘What formula?’ I said, ‘If you specify ‘x’, the computer can calculate ‘sin x’. Anyway, I said she could do it manually with a calculator also if she so wished.

She came back to me with a table written on her notebook with columns of ‘x in 1 degree increments’, ‘x in radians’, ‘sin x in decimal’, ‘Hex value in 8 bits’. She had stopped at 15 degrees since it was taking her too much time to manually calculate the entire 360 degrees. I also noticed that she had not taken the negative values of sin x. So, I asked her to calculate just one sample in the 2nd and 3rd quadrant.
She shot back, ‘Quadrant’?
I said ‘yes. Do you know what is a quadrant’?
She shook her head and sheepishly said, ‘I’ve forgotten. You mean 270 degrees?’
I asked ‘What is the first quadrant’?
‘Zero’
Without revealing any anger in my voice, I asked, ‘What is the range of the first quadrant’?
‘Zero. No, 90’
‘What is the second quadrant’?
‘180’
‘What is the third quadrant’?
‘270’
At that point I lost my patience and told her, ‘First quadrant is from 0 to 90. Can you now identify the 3rd quadrant’?
‘Yes sir. It is 180 to 270’.
Quite relieved at this huge success, I said, ‘Can you now just calculate 16 samples of a full wave and show me the result’?
She came back after 15 minutes and showed me a set of calculations that were all wrong. She had no idea what she had to do.
I thought I would go to the absolute basics and asked her ‘What is sin 30’?
She quickly whipped out her scientific calculator. I said, ‘You don’t need a calculator for that. Can you not draw a triangle and calculate’?
She stared at me as if I was out of my mind. Then she drew a vague triangle in which not even one angle was a right angle.
So, I drew one and denoted x as the ‘opposite’ and y as the hypotenuse. I said ‘Can you now calculate sin 30’?
‘But both x and y are unknown’.
I helped her by saying that ‘y’, the hypotenuse was 1. ‘Can you now calculate x’?
She quickly and triumphantly wrote ‘x= y*sin 30’!
‘I think you can calculate the value of x in relation to y, can’t you’?
An empty stare.
‘If one angle is 30 in a right-angled triangle, what would be the other?’ I asked.
’30 degrees’!
‘What is the sum of all three angles in a triangle’?
‘180. So, the other angle should be 60’.
So, I drew a mirrored triangle beneath the existing one to create the resultant equilateral triangle and asked ‘Does this shape give you any hints?’
An empty stare. So, I asked ‘Do you see any symmetry in the super triangle’?
‘Yes! If one is x, the other is (1-x)’!
I slapped my forehead and said ‘If there’s an isosceles triangle, can you guess x’?
‘It is x/2’.
With many more minutes of prodding and slapping my forehead, she arrived at ‘sin 30 = 0.5’
‘Now that you’ve managed to calculate sin 30, can you now calculate sin 45′?
She drew another triangle just like the 30 degree triangle, wrote x=0.5 and y=1 and marked the angle as ’45’.
I remarked ‘How did you mark x as 0.5′?
‘Sir, we just worked it out’!
I let it be and asked, ‘If one angle is 45 in a right angled triangle, what is the other angle’?
I was quite relieved that she did not go for her calculator. She actually blurted out ’45’ in just under 35 secs.
‘Great! If two angles are 45, can you figure out any relationship between any two sides’?
‘The base (adjacent) will be root 2’.
I said ‘If the two angles are 45, which two sides would be equal’?
Losing patience, I identified the base and the opposite sides as ‘1’. ‘Can you now calculate the hypotenuse’?
A blank stare forced me to draw dotted squares on the three sides and I asked ‘Does this picture now tell you anything’?
She shook her head. I asked ‘Have you heard of Pythagoras theorem’?
‘I have forgotten, Sir’.
Assuming that x, y & z may be more confusing than the a,b & c that we used to be taught in school, I wrote the latter.
No use.
So, I just wrote the formula c2 = a2 + b2.
Voila! ‘Root 2’ came the answer at last!!!!

‘Now that you have managed to calculate sin 30 and sin 45, can you now do sin 60’?
‘Sure’ was the very confident and proud reply.
She proceeded to draw yet another triangle that looked exactly like the first one and promptly wrote 60 in place of the 30.
She wrote ‘1’ on the hypotenuse and ‘1.5’ on the side opposite 60.
I was horrified.
‘How did you get 1.5 on that side’?
‘For a 15 degree increase from 30 to 45, that side increased from 0.5 to 1. So, for another 15 degree increase, it will increase by another 0.5’!
I thought to myself, “Absolutely brilliant logic”, but preferred to tell her calmly, ‘That’s not correct logic. If that was so, what would happen if the angle increased to 90’?

She proceeded to write two superimposed vertical lines for some distance and said, ‘It will be 2’.
‘How did you get 2? Why not 2.5’?
‘No, it can’t be 2.5’
‘But, you know what sin 90 is in reality, don’t you’?
‘Yes. 1’.
‘So, isn’t your logic wrong’?
‘Yes, Sir’.
‘So, now go back to your first triangle that you drew for sin 30. There’s something that you can see right there for 60’, I said.
She didn’t get it. So, I pointed out the 60 degree angle at the top of the triangle and asked ‘Can you write the sin 60 with reference to this angle’?
‘But that angle is in reverse. It goes beyond 180′.
I could not believe that I was listening to all this coming from an engineering graduate. Maintaining my composure, I took a deep breath.
I quickly drew another triangle as a mirror image of the 30 degree example and asked ‘Does this make any difference to the sin 30 just because the triangle is reversed’?
I was relieved when she said ‘No’.
‘So, can you now calculate sin 60 in the same triangle as the sin 30’?
‘Yes. It is 0.75’.
With anger and pain very visible on my face, I asked ‘How did you get that? Did you apply Pythagoras theorem’?
‘Oh yes. I forgot to do the squaring and rooting, Sir’!

If an engineering graduate has not understood the basics of what she studied in school, how did she not only progress through college but also get marks of over 60 and 70%? So, what’s the use of the examination system, not to talk of the class room lectures? If she does not even know the basic school-level geometry of a right angled triangle, let alone remember the name ‘Pythagoras theorem’, what science is she going to apply in life? What’s even more shocking to me is that many people tell me that 75% of the graduates are of this standard.

The question remains – If our engineering graduates do not learn how to apply basic  mathematical, engineering and science concepts to solve a problem, what do we mean by “Make in India”?

An Inclusive Approach to Defence Indigenisaton

The problem of either DRDO or a DPSU not delivering results as desired by the Armed Services is analogous to the lack of industry-academia interactions. Just as the engineering educational institutions are detached from practical engineering concepts as relevant to an industry, the DRDO/DPSU is also detached from the User agency. Both sides possess complementary parts of the total domain expertise, which means that they need to work as partners and not ‘buyer-seller’. Each side has to learn from the other through a continuous process of interactions and exchange of ideas. While this must surely have been the purpose behind posting serving officers to DPSUs, personality egos on both sides have prevented a healthy working partnership. As examples, I have known of scientists/engineers working on aircraft projects in CSIR/DRDO without even having seen an aircraft at close quarters. I am quite sure this is true even with many Naval projects. This hypothesis is also proven by the comments of some naval experts who have pointed to the successes of the Navy when Naval officers with the ‘best brains ‘ were sent on deputation to DRDO. I would say that the ‘best brains’ understood the system level performance requirements better than the scientists and ensured that these were met through a continuous interaction with the scientists who were able to apply their ‘best brains’ at the sub-system level.

The private sector is being promoted as a likely saviour for all the current problems. While it is certainly true that this sector is more accountable and keen to prove its mettle, the lack of domain expertise even to the level of the DRDO/HAL is by itself likely to be a severe limitation. The private sector will therefore have to be supported and nurtured through an active assistance from the Navy/Air Force in upgrading their knowledge in specialised domains of defence equipment, be it armaments or navigation or communication or radars, none of which is encountered in commercial and industrial applications. This will once again have to be a hierarchical approach with a large private player creating a cluster of MSMEs as a supply chain with design and manufacturing skills.

The Armed Services need to appreciate that many of the technical officers among them are not conversant with the technologies adopted within the systems and sub-systems of the platform, beyond the scanty maintenance documentation provided by the foreign OEMs. This is where the availability of strong technical and analytical skills available with the ‘best brains’ in the DPSU/HAL/Private sector can be taken advantage of. The existence of highly innovative and competent MSMEs in their own spheres of specialisation is acknowledged widely, but these rarely get to be tapped due to a disconnect between industry and the Armed Services. This is where the Armed Services need to draw on the strengths of industry. It might be interesting to set up defence laboratories by, for example, the Navy, where a private sector player could work for a limited period (like a sabbatical) to familiarise themselves with the on-board systems and even acquire technology through study or reverse-engineering of existing systems.

To conclude, a spirit of partnership needs to be nurtured among all the stakeholders in this whole game so that we achieve synergy leading to a win-win situation rather than a blame game.

Digital veena inventor who beefed up IAF’s firepower

An entrepreneur who has won a patent for a digital veena, and also designed a mechanism that fires rockets at a command from a computer aboard the Indian Air Force’s Jaguar aircraft? Incongruous but true. The entrepreneurial career of G Raj Narayan, 66, founder and managing director of Bengaluru’s Radel Group, has been guided by his twin passions – aerospace and music.

He spent 10 years as a design engineer at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) before disillusionment turned the thoughts of this post-graduate from IIT Madras towards entrepreneurship. He finally left HAL in mid-1979.

Within three months he was sub-contracting for Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, supplying electrical coils after investing his savings of Rs 10,000 in a coil winding machine. Together, the group’s two companies – Radel Electronics Pvt. Ltd. (which makes security systems and musical instruments and accounts for 90 per cent of group revenues) and Radel Advanced Technology Pvt. Ltd. (the aerospace business) – employ 80 people and have sales revenues of Rs 10 crore.

Aero India 2015

Radel is still a small enterprise. But Raj Narayan is working with the aviation wing of the Indian Navy, and hopes to get business from the Army too, since Radel is one of the few Indian players to be certified by the Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification – a Defence Research and Development Organisation lab. “I am looking at 100 per cent growth in the next two years, possibly even 150 per cent, if ‘Make in India’ takes off.” Raj Narayan concedes that for nearly 10 years after he started in business, he continued with his “garage mindset”, and it was only when he won an award for electronics in 1987 that he thought, “I must shift to an industrial estate in order to become a bigger player.”

He has taken care to ensure that R&D is Radel’s core strength. “The R&D team gradually grew, but took a quantum jump when the company set up its facility in Electronics City in 1995. The team now has about 16 engineers who design the electronic circuits, the software, the printed circuit boards, the mechanical housings and structures, the plastic cabinets and everything else that contributes to complete product design,” he says.

The disadvantages of being small are repeatedly felt. Though his aerospace company alone has orders in hand worth Rs 1 crore, working capital is hard to get from public sector banks. However, Raj Narayan turned one such disadvantage into a business opportunity. He found it hard to recruit engineering talent. Moreover, new recruits, once trained, would soon depart for greener pastures. So he set up the Drona Centre for Excellence as a division of Radel, “primarily to produce trained and productive engineers out of fresh graduates”.

Since Radel also possesses core aerospace domain expertise, “Drona also offers training courses in avionics systems, besides electronic product design. This allows the trainees and engineers a hands-on exposure to live projects that they can also see physically implemented for a real client,” says Raj Narayan.

This finishing school is the group’s third revenue stream, and so far it has taken in two batches of 30 students each and trained them, after which they were free to leave and join other companies. The centre also holds short-term courses for engineering students during their holidays.
Though in his mid-sixties, Raj Narayan intends to continue at the helm of Radel for six or seven years more. “I am in the process of grooming a second line of leadership, who can take over when I retire,” he explains.

The original article appeared on Business-Standard

GRajNarayan

Your Stamp in the Sky

Extract from an article that was published in the New Indian Express:

The Narendra Modi government recently allowed private players based in India to manufacture equipment for the Indian Air Force. In July this year, the Defence Ministry approved the construction of 56 transport aircraft by private players. This is the first time that the private sector will design and manufacture aircraft and will not be supported by the government enterprise, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

There has been some shift since the new government is encouraging participation of the private sector. It was not a dynamic environment before, but now we can expect some change and emergence of indigenous technology in the industries.

This has ignited interest in courses on aerospace.

Demand for the course

In India, you can do a course in Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering. BE/ME, BTech/MTech and PhD-level courses are available in the country. Aerospace engineers are required to have both theoretical and practical knowledge. So, most of these programmes will focus on maintenance systems, production planning and control, airframe instruments and industrial management.

GRajNarayan's Blog

“Studying the subject is very interesting as it has practical applications and is challenging compared to computer science or electronics engineering,” says Lynden Martin Gomez, an aeronautical engineering student who graduated last year from KCG College of Technology, Chennai.

Tweet this: “Students get attracted by IT companies and take up jobs there while the passionate few go into core engineering industries” 

Career scope

Aerospace engineers are paid from Rs.15,000 to Rs.50,000 a month depending on the firm and their experience. You can become a general manager, aircraft design engineer or a technician. Some companies where you can seek jobs include Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Hindustan Aeronautics and National Aeronautics Labs. While there are many job roles and companies that take in such engineers, “it was hard finding a job immediately after graduation,” says Lynden.

“Very few who come to us have hands-on capabilities. They seem to have pre-conceived ideas that seem dull. Students should be encouraged to innovate and design new equipment.”

 

The original article appeared in the  NewIndianExpress

GRajNarayan (2)

Why doesn’t India have really good, indigenously built fighter jets ?

A modern fighter aircraft is a very complex machine. It consists of a high performance aerodynamic airframe, constructed using a variety of modern materials such as aluminium and titanium alloys, carbon/glass fiber composites, etc., and a very high performance jet engine involving cutting edge technology and high precision machined parts. This only constitutes the basic flying platform, which is then equipped with a large variety of systems involving hydraulics, pneumatic, avionics, electrical and weapons related equipment to make it an efficient, sturdy, rugged, reliable, dependable, potent and safe machine. In fact,

“The quality of the systems and weapons fitted on a fighter aircraft is what really determines whether it is a “really good” or a mediocre aircraft”.

GRajNarayan's blog

An equipment indigenised by Radel that fires rockets from Jaguar aircraft

The design and development of a modern fighter aircraft needs a whole set of skills, capabilities, technologies and infrastructure extending over a very wide engineering spectrum. Further, due to the rapid advances in engineering technologies these days, such an industry would need to assimilate technologies as well as innovate their own continuously through R&D.

All these require highly qualified and trained engineers and scientists, who are encouraged and supported with the best of environment, infrastructure, financial backing and most importantly, quality leadership. Such an ecosystem has been sadly missing in this country all these years. With HAL being the exclusive PSU engaged in the development and manufacture of military aircraft for the last six decades, there has been very little opportunity for the private sector to get a foothold in this sector. One must also appreciate the fact that an aerospace industry is highly capital intensive with long gestation periods and hence no private sector organisation would have been able to afford the investments as made by the Govt. of India into HAL.

It is only in the last 15 years that large Indian business houses have evinced interest in foraying into aircraft manufacture. The synergy arising out of the joint participation of various aerospace organisations such as NAL, ADE, DRDO and HAL, by itself has resulted in a quantum jump resulting in the development of the LCA. This needs to be carried further with the active inclusion of the private sector, particularly in the areas of development of the airborne equipment falling under various categories.

What is required is a holistic and planned approach to developing the indigenous capability that synergises the strengths of the Govt. controlled aerospace organisations with the private sector companies that possess proven domain expertise in each of the engineering areas such as electronics, electrical, hydraulics, mechanical, pneumatic, and software engineering.