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Indian IT firms unfairly targeted in Boeing 737 Max fiasco, says industry

BENGALURU: India’s IT sector says it is being unfairly targeted for technology issues at clients, after employees of two Indian software services exporters were blamed for a software glitch on the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which have been grounded following two crashes with significant loss of lives.

HCL Technologies and Cyient said they were not involved in the design of the Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a part of the flight control system that malfunctioned causing the Boeing 737 Max airplanes to crash.

“These claims are vicious and lack any veracity. Indian tech is the favourite whipping boy for any issue that goes wrong, otherwise it is projected as still being in a labour arbitrage model with no value add, ” wrote Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president, industry lobby Nasscom on micro-blogging platform Twitter. “Time for the world to see how the industry has changed.”

According to a report by news agency Bloomberg, engineers of Indian companies were involved in the development and testing of the software.

“As a company, we place great emphasis on domain and industry knowledge and hire from the best talent pool available in the local markets,” a spokesperson for Cyient said. “This includes 1,000 engineers we have hired in the United States. Most of our engineers come with years of experience with leading aerospace OEMs and system providers.”

HCL said in a statement that it has a strong and long-standing business relationship with Boeing. “However, HCL does not comment on specific work we do for our customers. HCL is not associated with any ongoing issues with 737 Max,” it said.

Indian IT services companies have been working for nearly two decades with Boeing and Airbus, the world’s two largest passenger jet makers, building software for their planes.

This has made both the aircraft manufacturers look at India as a hub for building software and other technology solutions. Airbus and Boeing, each, have an engineering centre in Bengaluru and are expanding their operations in the country.

“Indian companies do software development and testing for Boeing’s partners as well.

Cost-effective outsourcing should not be linked to the Boeing 737 Max software failures,” said Pareekh Jain, founder of Pareekh Consulting.

India generates over $36 billion a year in engineering and R&D services, which companies offer to aerospace companies such as Boeing and Airbus, besides automotive, electronics and semiconductor firms.
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