Foreign co-pilots can work in India for two more years

August 6th, 2008 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sanjay Singh
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Foreign co-pilots will be allowed to work for Indian carriers for two more years as per a directive of the industry regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), a top official said. The DGCA directive follows an appeal by Indian air operators to allow foreign co-pilots to work in India as they have the requisite training, DGCA’s joint director general A.K. Chopra told IANS.

Spokespersons of Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher confirmed having foreign co-pilots on their rolls.

Earlier this year, the DGCA had asked all airlines to have Indian co-pilots from June 1, as almost 3,000 young pilots are jobless.

Chopra said airline operators had urged the government last month to allow foreign co-pilots to work till July 2010, the deadline for foreign pilots designated as commanders to fly Indian air carriers.

In 2005, the government allowed airline operators to hire foreign co-pilots till May 30, 2008 and senior pilots or commanders till July 2010 as India did not have enough trained pilots.

DGCA director general Kanu Gohain said 1,490 foreign pilots were given licences last year to seek work in the Indian civil aviation sector.

At present, India has 944 foreign pilots - 810 commanders and 134 co-pilots.

The extension of tenure for co-pilots, however, has not gone down well with Indian pilots.

“This has dashed all hopes for the aspiring pilots who were looking forward for an opening in the airline industry,” Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association general secretary Vikram Yadav said.

Almost 3,000 graduate pilots had applied for the 25 posts of co-pilots announced by Jet Airways this year, he said.

Those aspiring to become pilots have to spend anything up to Rs.2.2 million - almost everyone takes a loan for this.

“It is mayhem. Young aspiring pilots are turning towards Gulf air carriers for jobs,” Yadav said.

“Despite having a valid commercial pilot licence (CPL), many of the aspiring young Indian pilots have not been able to get through any Indian air carriers,” he added.

Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Alliance Air and Blue Dart have the maximum number of expatriate co-pilots.

SpiceJet and JetLite don’t have any foreign co-pilot.

Explaining the rationale behind recruiting foreign pilots, an airline official said graduate pilots in India don’t have type rating (training to fly a certain aircraft) for flying a plane like the A-320 or Boeing 737.

“Because of this, young Indian pilots cannot start flying the moment they join us. That is why we approached the government to extend the tenure of foreign co-pilots to fly Indian aircrafts,” he said.

Hiring a fresh Indian co-pilot means airline operators have to first secure type rating for them.

This would mean sending commercial pilot licence holders abroad for training on simulators of planes like an A-320 or Boeing 737, which could take a few months and cost anywhere up to Rs.1 million.

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