India Aviation Reverse Trade Mission – A Readout, next steps
Mehnaz Ansari
Mehnaz Ansari is USTDA’s Representative for India, South and Southeast Asia; she heads USTDA’s office for the South Asia, Indo-Pacific Region out of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

In September 2017, the U.S Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) hosted the India Aviation Safety, Security and Airport Infrastructure Reverse Trade Mission in the United States. As India aims to invest $120 billion in civil aviation over next ten years, this visit occurred at an opportune time for decision-makers to meet with the U.S. stakeholders to consider potential partnership opportunities, and to obtain leading best practices that can allow India to leapfrog the growth trajectory of its aviation sector. The itinerary was designed to support India’s aviation infrastructure goals, while at the same time inform U.S. businesses of upcoming aviation opportunities in India.

Led by India’s Secretary of Civil Aviation, Mr. Rajiv Narayan Choubey, the high – level delegation included Chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Director-General of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) Mr. Rajesh Kumar Chandra, Executive Director (ANS) of AAI, Mr. Sylvester Israel and CEO of AAI’s Cargo Division, Mr. Keku Gazdar. The delegates participated in three days of meetings with U.S. government stakeholders including the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration. The itinerary involved tours of FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) based at Reagan National Airport.

In addition to meeting with U.S. government representatives, the delegation engaged with U.S. industry attending sites at Boeing, Honeywell Aerospace, and United Technologies. Additionally, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) hosted an industry roundtable where the delegates presented on upcoming procurements and their aviation infrastructure goals.

The visit supported business engagement between two countries, as well as strengthened existing relationships, marking the beginning of yet another successful chapter of cooperation between the U.S. and India in civil aviation. In fact, during the visit, USTDA awarded a grant to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for an airport sustainability master plan project that will be carried out by U.S. firm, Landrum and Brown.

Following the visit, the Chairman of India’s Airports Authority indicated that though he traveled frequently on such missions all over the world, he was impressed with such successful outcomes and follow-ups after this mission. Only four months after the visit, we can already see signs of new partnerships forming. In fact, FAA invited AAI to its Command Center in January 2018. Also, AAI teams have visited the Boeing and Honeywell Center s of Excellence in Bangalore and Madurai to strengthen their cooperation.

Guiding the two countries engagement is the U.S.- India Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP), which provides a platform for stakeholders to discuss shared challenges and set goals for the future. Through the ACP, USTDA has sponsored more than two dozen activities in India’s civil aviation sector. Through projects, programs, workshops, and summits, the U.S. and India have partnered on strategic areas of aviation safety, security, and airport infrastructure. The cooperation continues to produce outstanding results where ACP member companies have worked on capacity building efforts for DGCA and BCAS and improvement of Air Navigation Services of Airport Authority of India.

Currently, USTDA is working closely with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to prepare for the sixth ACP Summit, set for summer 2018 in Mumbai. At the Summit, stakeholders will come together to discuss shared successes and continue setting ambitious goals to strengthen India’ s civil aviation sector in the years to come. We look forward to seeing you there!