Innovation is not Empty Vessels making Noise

By Ravinder Pal Singh, Global Chief Information and Technology Officer, Air Works

The growth curve of the aviation industry has seen many vacillations in the past few years. Though the induction of low cost carriers made the dream of many to fly by air come true, India as a country still has a long way to go to make aviation a genuine engine of transport for all sections of the society. There exists an enormous gap that has to be bridged to create capabilities to manufacture, engineer and service aircraft ecosystems which is only possible by means of fruitful technological innovations to become drivers and enablers of achieving global competence.

Technological Trends gaining Thrust
From an information standpoint, aviation as a domain is catching up with other domains like financial and retail services to adopt readily available technologies in consumer space, especially mobility, social and wearable technologies. In the enterprise space, technologies like cloud, integration and intelligence are gaining a lot of traction in almost every sphere of technology. With respect to IT, the prime defy in the aviation sector is an open secret – which is to convert the desire of data standardization for aviation to true intent and not just seeing sparks of innovation without reaching anywhere close or parallel to other forward looking domains like retail, banking and insurance. Some of the sectors like healthcare and banking have made the best of data standardization in-spite of fierce competition and rivalry amongst organizations. Upcoming techno-trends like Internet of Things, 3D printing and Gamification are some of the IT trends that I am betting on for medium and long term agility. I strongly feel that Unmanned Platforms, Cognitive Avionics and Natural Language Search will also gain a great foothold as the next-gen technologies.

Growing with Community Oriented Culture
Our organization is a group of likeminded entrepreneurs who run specialized businesses and are best in their respective domains. Integration of all capabilities for our customers and our own sake is the biggest asset and challenge that we have. Technology plays a great role in bringing people, processes and things together into one hanger across functions and across constituent companies in multiple countries.

As the CIO, I am personally involved in building young, vibrant and multi-cultural communities within the organization that contribute to the ideation and innovation with direct visibility to the leadership. We follow a startup culture which is informal and fearless but at the same time community oriented like a global corporate which is structured and goal driven. As an innovation leader, I strive hard to convert each ideation to a 90 day project. If it demonstrates success, it becomes the fabric of the organization and takes scale with the required funding. Hence just talking means nothing and noise in modulated very quickly. Innovation in problem solving is also boundary less. For an instance, recently some young colleagues from CAMO, Planning, and Engineering came together to help the supply-chain team to solve a complex problem. We identify technology and innovation champions across the organization, and that community encourages other members to participate and work together in solving simple and complex problems and create future ideas.

Adding Value with Quality Driven Innovation
Aircraft management to Air Works is to have the knack of providing all components of aircraft management under a single roof. Most of the innovations taking place in Air Works today are fanatical to deliver end-to-end world class quality aircraft engineering services in varied segments such as general aviation and airline MRO, painting, aircraft management services, aircraft interiors, avionics and now engines as well. We believe and practice the philosophy of small giants – we aspire to deliver the highest quality and be the best at every task that we do, and from that perspective we utilize technological innovation as driving engine and enabling glue.

Quality is our core value which flows in the veins of every member in the organization. It is not constrained only to my domain or the core business of aircraft engineering services. It applies to every function in the organization whether it is how we facilitate health & safety, M&A, finance, HR and so on. The company's commitment to quality can be reasoned to a long list of approvals and certifications like CAAS, CAASL, CARC, DCA, DGCA, EASA, GACA, GCAA, QCAA, SO9001-2008, ISO14001-2004 and OSHAS 18001-2007, DGCA certified CAR-145, CAMO and many more. In retail banking for an instance, the customers have access to their bank statements via different modes of information. Similarly, our team also goes an extra mile to bring about the highest level of transparency to our customers with respect to their aircraft status, inventory, tasks-in-progress, and so forth.

Road to the Future
From a technology perspective, it has been a "true" transformation at extremely fast pace, from almost no IT (or legacy broken IT) couple of years back, now we have a foundation on the cloud (and Tier-3/4 DC), mobility and our own app market. Rapid digitalization is taking place across functions such as HR, Finance, Legal, Compliance and Business groups i.e. CAMO, Planning, Engineering, Supply-chain and Quality. Our technology portfolio ranges from cloud, mobility, RFID, search appliance, intelligent maps, SaaS, ERP, PaaS and social (internal facing). This year, we are planning to add CRM, Digital communications (Public), smart engineering applications for aviation to our growing portfolio. 

Technology continues to be a critical strategic pillar for Air Works. We have recently taken over French aircraft painting specialist Aero Technique space to work in conjunction with UK based Air Livery in which we have acquired a 90 percent stake. Similarly, we already have customers in India who use Empire Aviation's AMS capabilities which were never available in India.

It is growth that we breathe at Air Works. Our immediate plan is to add more hangers in regions we operate in and overhaul shop for Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engines. For a case in point, we are planning to triple our capacity from one narrow-body slot to three bays at our Hosur base thus allowing us to support wide-bodies in future.

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