"Amazing visit to Airbus facility. They are very enthusiastic about the 'Make in India' initiative," the prime minister eventually tweeted. He had arrived at the campus straight after landing here from Paris on a Boeing 747-437 aircraft of 1996 vintage.
The occasion also saw the Airbus top brass give its assessment on the need for aircraft by Indian carriers. The country, it said, will require as many as 1,291 planes over the next 20 year -- 913 in single-aisle configuration, 322 twin-aisled and 56 large ones. "Every A320 family plane is now partly made in India," read another large billboard, as the prime minister was taken on the tour by a team led by Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders, who said his group was keen on forging a stronger industrial bond with India.
"India already takes centre-stage role in our international activities and we want to even increase its contribution to our products. We support Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' call and are ready to manufacture in India -- for India and the world," Enders said.
A visibly pleased Modi was informed that the Airbus procurement from India was set to grow further as it planed additional manufacturing and engineering work packages with local firms and accelerate their integration into the group's global supply chain.
Such partnership, the group added, will extend to a host of areas such as engineering, pilot training, customer services and maintenance, repair and overhaul capability, or MRO, with Indian partners.
In India, the $65-billion Airbus Group already operates two engineering centres: One focused on civil aviation and the other on defence. It also has a research and technology (R&T) centre which together employ over 400 highly qualified people.
It claims to be a significant part of the fleets of all major Indian carriers with a market share of well over 70 percent.
The group said it counts as partners several Indian firms, notably the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics, Mahindra Group, the Tatas, Wipro, Larsen and Toubro, and Infosys Technologies.
"The group is also willing to set-up final assembly lines and establish supply chains and related infrastructure for military transport aircraft and helicopters in the country," said an Airbus statement.
"These would be in full compliance of procurement policies specified by the Indian Ministry of Defence and local foreign direct investment guidelines," it said, adding that it has submitted a proposal with the Tatas to make C295 aircraft in India to replace the navy's ageing fleet of Avros. "Airbus Helicopters is in discussion with Indian companies to finalise teaming arrangements for helicopter programmes, including the naval utility helicopter, the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter as well as the naval multi-role helicopter competitions." Space is another area in which the group has active collaborations in India, the group said, as Modi was ready to leave for the campus of French space agency CNES -- but not before a dozen-odd staff of Indian origin wanted photos with Modi, who obliged. The Indian prime minister was in Paris first and then arrived here on Saturday on the first leg of his three-nation visit that will now take him to Germany on Sunday and thereafter to Canada.