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Home > Business > Special


Dinesh Keskar: Boeing's India ace

P R Sanjai in Mumbai | September 01, 2006

Dinesh Keskar does not think that he can make it for Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna on this trip to India.

But thankfully, being Boeing's senior vice-president, sales, commercial airplanes, leaves him with just enough time to pick up as much Hindi and Marathi music as he can lay his hands on while zipping through Mumbai.

It's good, too, that Keskar's visits have become more frequent, of late. All because the domestic airliner market is in boom.

Having helped clinch a Rs 35,000 crore (Rs 350 billion) deal with Air-India for the supply of 68 Boeing aircraft, Keskar can claim that his visits have already paid the company back many times over. And there's a 20-year horizon that has already set the pulse racing.

"Boeing has collaborated with India for more than 60 years," says Keskar, "and we're excited to take part in the amazing future that lies ahead for Indian aviation."

Born on July 25, 1954, in Rajkot, Keskar got his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in India in 1975. He got his master's and doctorate degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1976 and 1978, respectively. After that, in 1987, he got an MBA from City University in Seattle.

For Keskar, August is an auspicious month. He signed an agreement to sell four aircraft to Air-India in August 1991. And it was in August 1993 that he brought in a satellite-phone-equipped aircraft for non-stop operations between New York and New Delhi. He hasn't had time to look back since.

Keskar was appointed president of Boeing Aircraft Trading in February 2000, where he led the global marketing efforts. Before that, Keskar was the president of Boeing India, a position he assumed in August 1995.

As a research man in the 1980s, he had developed techniques to conduct flight tests and analyse flight test data to obtain airplane math models for flight simulators. And before joining Boeing, Keskar had worked as a research associate in the Flight Dynamics and Control Division at NASA's Langley Research Center.

For now, he'll be known as the 68-aircraft dealmaker. "It was also the single largest order in the world during 2005," says Keskar.

The deal was not sealed in August, but it was August 2006 that brought luck to Keskar - and to Nagpur. As part of the Air-India deal, Boeing signed an MoU with the Maharashtra government for a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul unit at Nagpur with an investment of $100 million.

"The Nagpur facility will provide a convenient, centralised location for India-based airlines to schedule routine maintenance and overhaul work, and have repairs done," he says.

Keskar's company will also invest an additional $75 million for a pilot training academy and $10 million for infrastructure projects. Also in Nagpur? "No clue," he replies, "We have not yet decided the location."

Then there's the outsourcing bonanza too: Boeing has lined up some Rs 8,500 crore (Rs 85 billion) worth of business to Indian companies.

Industry players say Keskar was always "apla maanus - and an Indian at heart".

Seattle-based Keskar is never going to say goodbye to India.


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