By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: B K Chaturvedi, the man heading the 'expert group' to script the survival mantra for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), visited company's Bangalore Divisions recently. Chaturvedi, a former Cabinet Secretary and now Planning Commission member, leads a seven-member team, set to suggest ways to put HAL back in shape.
The team had HAL on its radar from October 2011, after the company became a teething pain for Defence Minister A K Antony, with most projects running late. While Antony's prescription for HAL's ailments might be based on Chaturvedi Committee's diagnosis report, not everyone seems to be convinced about the changes it would bring in. “HAL needs radical changes and not cosmetic ones. Let's wait and see what the report would suggest and what eventually the Ministry of Defence would agree to. The committee is taking the views of many aerospace experts too. Don't expect anything magical overnight,” sources said.
An HAL release said on Monday that the team would submit its report by July-end. The same release also says the report would suggest measures to meet 'technological and HR challenges.' When quizzed what these challenges are, an HAL HR official said: “Shortage of trained manpower in some critical areas (read as design and manufacturing) is a concern. Our policies don't give the flexibility to go out of turn to retain talent. Also, we need to give exposure to our men in new areas.”
On the technology front, sources say that HAL needs to put its production lines in tune with the changing times. “Teaming up with the private sector in more areas is what the committee would likely to suggest. The focus will be on tackling time and cost overruns,” sources said.
Meanwhile, three years after HAL put the needs of media on the back-burner, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Internal communication channels have been activated now and an officer has been posted to attend to media's needs.
BEHIND SCHEDULE: 1.The Light Combat Aircraft's (LCA) Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) has been spilt into two parts owing to delays. The last limited series production aircraft (LSP-8) is next to fly.
2. HAL has so far delivered over 100 Sukhois to the IAF, out of a total order of 180 aircraft to be produced under licence from Russia, at an approximate cost of Rs 250-300 crore each. The first complete raw material phase aircraft flew in November 2011. The Sukhois, now under the compressed production schedule, is HAL's major revenue-spinning project. The project is running behind the schedule owing to technology absorption issues.
3.The Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Hawk production, weaponisation of Dhruv and LCA Navy are some of the projects running late.
ROAD AHEAD: 1. The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) 2. MMRCAs to be produced under licence 3. Multi-role Transport Aircraft 4. LCA Mk-2 5. Light Utility Helicopter 6. LCA Navy
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