Faced with a shortage of qualified engineers, U.S. aviation electronics manufacturer Rockwell Collins has expanded a strategic relationship with HCL Technologies of India to employ the services of around 300 hardware, software and mechanical engineers.
Working 24 hours a day in shifts at design centers in Chennai and Bangalore, the HCL engineers will be tasked with development of communications gear and avionics for Rockwell Collins’ commercial systems division in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
HCL’s relationship with Rockwell Collins started six years ago with a verification and validation project and “has grown substantially in size and strategic relevance” since then, according to Shami Khorana, president of HCL America.
Aerospace now represents about 8 percent of HCL’s business, said Khorana, who emphasized the shift in the nature of work now taken on in India. As illustrated by its deepening relationship with Rockwell Collins and by its joint development center in Chennai with Smiths Industries Aerospace (now part of GE), India has moved beyond being a place to get validation and testing done. “Indian companies are now doing design and covering the whole product lifecycle,” he said.
Khorana said that HCL is the Indian leader in aerospace software development and has “a real competitive edge with only one or two others who can compete in niche areas.” It has illustrated this with its work on the Boeing 787, in particular with Smiths on the Common Core System.
He admited that the low cost base is a key advantage but added that the company has all the expected accreditation for software development work at the highest level. It has around 1,200 engineers dedicated to aerospace, mostly home-grown, but there is a small but growing trend now toward skilled employees from overseas working in India.