T Suvarna Raju took charge as chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), replacing R K Tyagi. Suvarna Raju, 56, is credited with securing the first patent for HAL, in January 2002. Currently, he is chairman of the Bangalore chapter of the Aeronautical Society of India. He is the first member secretary of the Design Development Management Board, set up by the defence ministry. He is also member-secretary, National Aeronautics Co-ordination Group.
Born in P Vemavaram village in Tanuku (West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh), Raju, an engineering graduate, joined HAL on June 26 1980 as a management trainee. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Chennai and National Defence College, he was also part of an academic program on intellectual property rights at National Law School of India University. He has a master’s degree in business administration and an M Phil in defence and strategic studies.
Raju heralded a new era in research and development programmes, covering light combat aircraft, light utility helicopters, light combat helicopters, intermediate jet trainers, the HTT-40, the Jaguar DARIN-III, the Mirage upgrade, etc. He led drafting of HAL’s first research and development (R&D) policy. He also conceptualised, prepared and implemented a number of automation and real-time systems. In the past two years, HAL has applied for an unprecedented 1,000 patents.
Raju has been instrumental in taking various measures to make HAL’s R&D set-up competitive. Under him, all design centres were brought under the ambit of the Committee of Institutional Network. The policy has enabled the creation of a corpus for the R&D section by keeping aside 10 per cent of the company’s operating profit after tax.
Raju also contributed towards Jaguar production and overhaul of HAL facilities. He was instrumental in establishing a production line of Hawk Mk 132 aircraft and ensuring their delivery. He also managed the Mirage 2000 aircraft maintenance project, which recorded on-time deliveries, without any cost overrun.