Is Boeing considering building aircraft design AND manufacturing facilities in India? That’s what India’s Prime Minister said this week.
As we know, Airbus has Final Assembly Lines (FALs) for aircraft in multiple sites and countries: France, Germany, China, and the United States. Boeing doesn’t. It DOES have FALs at multiple sites for its airliners, but all of them are in the United States.
However, last Friday, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, said that the country’s people will not have to wait too long for Boeing aircraft designed and built there. Boeing inaugurated an engineering center in Bengaluru, India, where Modi made this statement.
Was this simply a politician’s boast or something more substantial? Boeing may not be building fixed-wing aircraft in India. But there is a line building complete fuselages of AH-64E Apache helicopters there. Boeing also makes vertical fins for the 737 aircraft family in India.
Boeing already has other ventures in the country, including plans to make passenger-to-freighter conversions there. Freighters aren’t in as high demand now as last year, when Boeing announced those plans. So we don’t know if these plans are still on.
Boeing Aircraft and the “Make in India” Initiative
But there is no question that both Boeing and Airbus have been increasing their activities in the Indian subcontinent. For some time now, the country’s Prime Minister has been pursuing the “Make in India” initiative, inviting foreign manufacturers to set up shop in the country.
India hopes to convince both Boeing and Airbus to build aircraft in the country. Airbus has already agreed to assemble 40 C295 military transports in India, starting in 2026. The same site could produce C295s for other Asian customers.
But even if Boeing and Airbus don’t build aircraft in India, they can certainly design them there. This is perhaps the biggest news in this story. Boeing already employs 6,000 people in India, not including those who will work in the new engineering center in Bengaluru.
Boeing invested $200 million in the 43-acre campus. The manufacturer has been looking for an engineering force in many parts of the world. Boeing had an engineering center in Moscow, until early in 2022.
Late in the previous decade, many saw Boeing’s possible joint venture with Embraer as a response to the Airbus – Bombardier partnership, eventually turning the CSeries into the A220. But many analysts believe that Boeing’s main interest in Embraer was in the Brazilian manufacturer’s engineers.
That partnership evaporated in the pandemic. But could Boeing build an engineering base in India, and design its next aircraft there? The new engineering center is reportedly the largest Boeing facility outside the United States.