Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Over 60 years of keeping the birds flying in the sky

Strange though it may sound it wasn’t a profit motive that led to the birth of India’s first Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility. Air Works India (Engineering) Private Ltd was set up in 1951 at Mumbai airport, where it still exists, by two partners — a lawyer and someone who came from a wealthy background.

“It was a childhood passion which developed into an institution,” says Ravi Menon, son of one of the two founders of Air Works, who is currently its Executive Director.

With a last reported turnover of between ?700 crore and ?750 crore, Air Works is the largest independent MRO provider in India. It is also one of the only seven IATA-certified safety auditors and a global market leader for charter safety ratings.

The company also provides engineering, asset management and safety and technology solutions to the commercial and business aviation communities.
In reaching this position Air Works has also trained hundreds of people who can now be found in different aviation-related companies across the globe.

Says Ravi, “Air Works became a sort of transit camp for talent. People would do some training and then join Air Works to get some practical experience and exposure and then move on to various airlines. Even today, in almost all the airlines, there is somebody from Air Works. When you go to air shows in West Asia, almost every organisation has 30 per cent people who are from Air Works.”

When Air Works started, the going was not that good as there was no business. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd had been set up in Bengaluru to do all the maintenance work and major checks on the Dakotas. During 1951-52, some airlines like Royal Nepal Airlines, Ariana and Iran Air decided that instead of flying their aircraft to Bengaluru for the checks they would try out Air Works because its location in Mumbai was more convenient.

The following year, G.D. Birla approached Air Works seeking help in locating a Dakota for his personal use.
22/01/19 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

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