Thursday, 20 November 2014

Nagpur Aviation minister to visit MIHAN Boeing MRO project

NAGPUR: The Boeing maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) depot is completely ready and could become operational in a month or so. Aviation minister Ashok Gajpathy Raju will arrive in the city on Tuesday for a high-level meeting with Air India officials to review progress of the Rs 800 crore facility coming up as part of MIHAN. This MRO is billed to be the most modern in Asia and save huge foreign exchange and time for Indian airlines operators. The MRO is a joint venture between Boeing and Air India with 49:51 stakes.

The two big hangars 100X200 metres each are ready, and were built by infrastructure giant L&T. Two Boeing 747 aircraft can be accommodated and overhauled at a time at these hangars. Such a MRO facility was not available in the country and planes had to be sent to Boeing's Seattle headquarters in the US or to the MRO that has come up in China.

The Nagpur MRO will have state of the art machinery and technology. Now, not only Indian operators but airless from other Asia countries can use this facility, saving precious time and foreign exchange. As many as 130 Boeing planes operate in the country and an equal number in nearby Asian countries, which can be potential clients at the Nagpur MRO.

The then aviation minister Praful Patel had negotiated with Boeing in 2004-05 for the MRO as part of a large deal with the aircraft major for supply of new planes. But the project took a long time to take off, since first the land allotment was delayed and then the crucial taxiway connection, while Boeing took its own time to construct the facility.

The Maharashtra Airports Development Corporation (MADC), which is executing Mihan project, is confident that the 2.5km taxiway connecting the MRO with the main runway would be completed in a month. Almost 98% of the work is already done, said a top official of MADC.

Aviation minister Raju will hold a meeting with top Air India officials including chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan and CEO Jagannathan, who are also reaching the city on Tuesday. Raju is expected to land here at 11.55am and proceed for the meeting. MADC officials led by managing director Tanaji Satre will be present.

There is a possibility that other pending issues, like land swap with defence ministry, building of second runway and development of the airport as envisaged in Mihan, would also be discussed at the meeting. The big push to Boeing comes along with IT major TCS completing its building work and likelihood of starting recruitment of 4,000 personnel, mainly software engineers, from next month. These are seen as a big positive for Mihan, which is running at least five years behind schedule.

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