The Boeing plane you are flying has a lot of India technology in it
This story is about Boeing, and we aren’t exaggerating when we say that engineers in India play a substantial role in designing and building major systems of most Boeing planes. The engineering centre has been expanding rapidly ever since it was established in the country in 2009.
And later this year, it will open one of its largest engineering centres outside the US in Bengaluru – a $200 million state-of-the-art engineering and technology campus. Already, the Boeing India Engineering & Technology Centre (BIETC) employs over 4,500 engineers and innovators across Bengaluru and Chennai. The new campus will enable a significant expansion of people and capabilities.
The existing centre houses engineering, test, research and technology, information technology, and digital analytics teams. Outside the US, Boeing’s India design centres are by far the biggest engineering hubs, says Salil Gupte, president of Boeing India.
Ahmed Elsherbini, chief engineer at Boeing India, says some of the hardcore electrical and structural engineering work is done out of here and have made a significant impact to their global operations.
One such notable contribution made by India engineers is related to the wiring. “Every aircraft has thousands of wires tucked into its walls. While each wire serves a purpose, reducing the number ofwires can lead to more efficient production and maintenance,” Elsherbini says.
But reducing crucial wiring is easier said than done. The engineering team in India decided to forego the legacy methods used to handle the wiring, and instead used machine learning capabilities and automation tools to design a wiring system that was far more efficient and accurate.
And it’s not just Boeing’s commercial jetliner business that Indian engineers are increasingly being made responsible for. Elsherbini says most of the defence platforms, and even the space platforms, are being worked on directly from India. But Elsherbini said they cannot disclose the specifics of the work being done due to their sensitive nature.
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The 777X, Boeing’s latest series of long-range, twin-engine jetliners, is slated to come out in 2025, and Elsherbini says the India design centres are engaged from an engineering perspective on almost every element of the hotly anticipated plane.
“Our team here is working on all elements of the 777X. We are supporting the structure of the 777X, including load analysis, and manufacturing processes. We are fully engaged in the design of the interior of the 777X as well – everything inside the cabin that passengers see when they enter the airplane is highly customised and consists of highly safety-sensitive products, and they are differentiated with every airline customer. We’re also doing electrical work out of here and we’re going to be doing customer support when they start flying,” he says.
Boeing’s ever increasing engineering presence in the country also helps develop the overall aerospace ecosystem in India. For example, its 15-year partnership with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has helped both parties improve early-stage research in aerospace materials and structures technologies.
Gupte says in the next 20 years, companies like Boeing, and others in the aerospace ecosystem, will need to invest vast amounts of resources into R&D to bring to fruition the almost science-fiction-like future of autonomous flying vehicles, and to overcome the bevy of challenges that such a future would bring.
For example, air traffic controllers will have to be fitted with advanced tech to detect UAVs flying within, say, a 10-mile radius of airports so that the pizza delivery drone does not splatter anything against the windshield of a plane trying to land. And once the world gets into autonomous flying cars, that will bring a whole set of new challenges to solve. Young engineers in India have a lot to look forward to.