Undeterred, the Surya Kiran aircraft returned to enthrall aviation buffs at the end of the show.
Aero India 2019 may have had its share of misfortune: a mid-air collision of two aircraft of the IAF’s Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), tragically claiming the life of an ace pilot a day before the inauguration, and a shocking blaze in a parking lot that gutted some 300 cars. Undeterred, the Surya Kiran aircraft returned to enthrall aviation buffs at the end of the show. A deafening silence, however, on the part of MoD about the venue of the next air show, routinely announced at the end of the event, amid murmurs that the area around Yelahanka airbase was getting over-developed and was no longer safe for aerial manoeuvres, has set off speculation that the mishaps could be cited to move the event to another city. Will political compulsions overtake the need to retain Bengaluru as the venue? Will Aero India 2019, themed “The runway to a billion opportunities”, prove a wasted opportunity to put in place the foundation for global partnerships, the opening of new employment avenues and resultant spiral in the economy?
Beyond the deafening roar of the steel birds at Aero India 2019 was an audible change in the language of every global aerospace and defence major: India is no longer viewed solely as a lucrative, multi-billion dollar marketplace, but as a partner to roll out hi-tech products for international and domestic markets. Irrespective of whether they are based in the US or Europe, these firms circulated “please partner us” invites to public and private sector companies as well as start-ups in this aerospace hub. The advantage of leveraging local talent and expertise would help make their weapons cost-competitive across the world. Some 50 MoUs were signed. More are in the offing. Even if half the number of MoUs fructify, the growth in the aero-defence industry would have an exponential impact on job creation in the related hospitality and transport industries, and boost the economy. Why would anybody mess with that?