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Mon, Jan 01, 2007

India Takes Steps To Mitigate Pilot Shortage

Need Outstrips Hirings By More Than Two-To-One

You're faced with a mounting shortage of more than 500 commercial pilots each year. What to do?

Action has been initiated on several fronts to mitigate the growing problem in India. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), for example, is reducing the time to acquire a commercial pilot license from 16 to 12 months and will introduce a multi-engine pilot license in 2007.

"This is an important move, as it will help in better and speedy training of the pilots," said DGCA Director General Kanu Gohain. "Overseas, pilot training schools have 12-month courses. We have decided to bring it at par with global standards by cutting the training duration. DGCA will also introduce the multi-crew pilot license," he added.

About 250 foreign pilots will be granted commercial pilot licenses by DGCA in the first quarter of 2007.

Additionally, DGCA is acquiring 11 trainer aircraft to distribute to India's top aviation academies, at pricetags equivalent to about $200,000 apiece. A new pilot training institute in Gondia near Nagpur will also be opened; "expressions of interest" have been invited from foreign companies for collaboration.

And finally, the number of new students per session for the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi will increase from 40 to 100, according to Gohain.

While 500 new pilots are needed each year, only 200 Indian pilots enter the industry annually. With the measures outlined, DGCA will increase pilot availability to about 400 pilots. And with 39 pilot training schools in the country, "we will do a performance evaluation and give trainer aircraft to the 11 best performing schools," said Gohain.

India's aviation industry is delighted with DGCA's measures. "India will require about 3,000 pilots in the next five years," said Gohain. "Currently, 2,500 pilots are working with 11 airlines in India."

"The multi-crew pilot license will be of tremendous help as it will save the pilots the number of flying hours required to shift from one type of rating to another," said the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation India CEO Kapil Kaul.

Currently, India has about 475 expatriate pilots. Pilots from the US, South Africa, Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia and East Europe are currently being interviewed by DGCA.
There's little doubt India would prefer to look closer to home, however... as hiring an expatriate pilot costs around 20 percent more than an Indian pilot, including the cost of accommodation and travel.



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